Monday, June 20, 2011

Parks Funding

It is, in the larger world, at the lower end of funding priorities, but the inability of the higher level leadership to get its act together, will ultimately impact it even more corrosively than normal, even during tough times.

This article from the Wall Street Journal looks at state leadership here in Sacramento.

An excerpt.

“'All My Children" may be off the air, but the soap opera is still running in Sacramento. In the latest installment, Governor Jerry Brown divorced his fellow Democrats by vetoing their budget. Democrats and unions are furious and plotting revenge, while both sides blame the evil Republicans for refusing to sanction a referendum that would give voters a chance to endorse a tax increase.

“Where's Susan Lucci when you need her?

“Mr. Brown deserves credit for vetoing the Democratic budget that reverted to Sacramento form to close a $9.6 billion deficit, deferring several billion dollars of bills into the future, borrowing from special funds, and raising the state's sales tax and vehicle registration fee without the constitutionally required supermajority vote. Even the Democratic treasurer warned that the state couldn't finance its short-term debt with such a risky plan, and Mr. Brown cashiered it.

“Democrats are now blasting him for suggesting that an "all cuts" budget is the only alternative if Republicans won't agree to allow a vote on a five-year extension of what was supposed to be a temporary income tax surcharge, among other tax hikes. Democrats are frustrated because they expected Republicans to cave months ago. But Republicans have shown laudable discipline, and they know that their relevance in state politics hinges on extracting concessions from employee unions that will reduce the future cost of government.

“Mr. Brown needs at least two GOP votes in each chamber to put the tax increases on the ballot. And Republican lawmakers have said for months that they're willing to do so in return for modest pension and regulatory reforms and a hard spending cap.

“For instance, they want to cap annual pension benefits at $106,000 per employee. Yup, state workers could still earn a six-figure annual pension from retirement to death. Republicans also want new state workers—not current employees—to have the option of a hybrid pension that includes a less generous defined benefit portion as well as an employer-matched defined contribution plan. That proposal is scaled back from the recommendation of the state independent oversight commission to freeze benefits for current workers and to move everyone into hybrid plans.”