Sunday, August 02, 2009

Budget Success?

While legislators are complimenting themselves on the budget success, the troubles ahead are ominous, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

“California has avoided fiscal reality for so long it’s fitting that the state legislature reverted to subterfuge last week while voting for its third budget deal in nine months.

“Part of the latest deal—which depends in equal part on real cuts and accounting gimmicks to close a $26 billion gap—was a proposal to raise revenue by allowing new oil drilling off of existing platforms near Santa Barbara. It was a move that had been endorsed by that county’s own board of supervisors last year. But environmentalists and 43% of voters remain fiercely opposed, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

“The measure cleared the State Senate a week ago Friday and moved over to the Assembly. There Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass admitted she couldn’t find enough votes for the oil-drilling lease. Thanks to the environmental lobby, it mustered only three Democratic votes and was defeated 43 to 28 with nine abstentions.

“Then things got weird. A motion to expunge the vote from the public record was made by Democratic floor leader Alberto Torrico and was approved by voice vote. It disappeared from the public record as if it had been erased, in an effort to hide their decision from voters.

“George Orwell would be proud,” GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who authored the drilling provision, told the newsletter Capitol Weekly. “It sure went down the memory hole, didn’t it?” Only one tape of the proceedings—CalChannel (the state’s version of C-SPAN)—still exists to prove it happened.

“This vote scrubbing is symbolic of the lengths to which California’s leaders went to paper over the state’s deficit. Some $1.2 billion of the money “saved” in the budget deal comes from simply shifting the day state workers get paid by one day into the next fiscal year. Cities and counties will sue to declare the state’s $3.2 billion raid on their property tax revenue unconstitutional, and they might well win in court. And the state could likely see another $6 billion to $8 billion deficit open up as early as October, forcing a new budget Band-Aid.”