Posted by: mutantpoodle | January 16, 2009


I haven’t weighed in on the craziness that is California’s budget lately – but then Arnold Schwarzenegger gave his State of the State address, and said this:

California, the eighth-largest economy in the world, faces insolvency within weeks. The Legislature is currently in the midst of serious and good-faith negotiations to solve this crisis, negotiations that are being conducted in the knowledge that we have no alternative but to find agreement.

The importance of the negotiations’ success goes far beyond the economic and human impact. People are asking if California is governable. They wonder about the need of a constitutional convention. They don’t understand how we could have let political dysfunction paralyze our state for so long. In recent years they have seen more gridlock in Sacramento than on our roads, if that is possible.

I will not give the traditional State of the State address here today because the reality is that our state is incapacitated until we solve the budget crisis. The truth is that California is in a state of emergency.

And, sad to say, he’s right. Except, it seems to me, the “good-faith” part, as it applies to legislative Republicans.

California is ungovernable. We are tyrannized by a small group of ideologically pure Republicans, whose only power is to say no and try, through sheer stubbornness, to bend the rest of the legislature to their will. And, thanks to a completely gerrymandered state, they face no consequences for their actions; indeed, it we are at a point where the legislature is resorting to schemes to get around the ridiculous 2/3 requirement for budgets and tax increases.

California’s Republican legislators (like so many of their national brethren) seem to believe that taxes can only be lowered, regulations should only be reduced, and every shortfall can be solved on the backs of the sick, the poor, and California’s public schools.

California’s greatness is a legacy of a time when people paid more of their wealth to make the state – collectively – a better place. The University of California and the California public schools systems – once idealized and envied by those in other states – are falling apart. And in case those GOP troglodytes don’t know it – it was the quality of California’s educational system that helped make it the powerful economic force it has been for so many decades.

I’d feel a little sorrier for Schwarzenegger, except that he rode into office on a bogus recall that was triggered by the structural problems that have exploded on us today. He kept saying No New Taxes, and making adolescent jokes about the manliness of Democrats. I will say this for him – he’s smart enough to have learned that slogans don’t balance the budget, and that the loonies in Sacramento are the people in his own party.

I don’t know what’s going to happen – I suspect the Democrats and Schwarzenegger will craft some bill and once again game the process to gt around the legislative Republicans – but I do know that this will happen again, and at the worst possible times, until California gets rid of the 2/3 supermajority requirement for budgets and taxes, and figures out a way to get out from under legislation by initiative.

Otherwise, the great state of California will become a shell of its former self, and jokes about us won’t be about our silly commissions on self-esteem, but about the collapse of what were once our competitive advantages over so many other states.

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