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Arnold’s Final Bid for Budget Ballot Props

May14

heilarnoldArnold’s drop-by at his big press avail on the May budget revision was a case of the elephant giving birth to the mouse.

The administration has been putting out details of its worst-case/worser case scenarios for almost a week: more cuts for schools, early release of thousands of state prisoners, selling off everything but the Golden Gate Bridge. So there wasn’t a whole lot new in terms of the numbers, and the governor’s plaintive plea on behalf of his ballot props next Tuesday was definitely déjà vu all over again.

(The Department of Finance report on the two alternatives for addressing the deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — $15.4 B if the props pass, $21.3 B if they don’t — is here.

That said, his Arnoldship did make at least a few interesting statements, starting with his introduction of Finance Director Mike Genest – “this man is on suicide watch” – that will frame yet another budget brawl, which will erupt next week as soon the election formalities are finished:

1-“To look for new revenues is out of the question.” It’s true that in negotiating this year’s budget deal, Schwarzenegger kept insisting that he’d never go for tax increases, right up until he did. But his position at this point is basically irrelevant; with the six Republican legislators who signed on to new taxes in February all being punished – by losing their leadership posts, facing recalls, or being shunned by the GOP caucus – it’s a safe bet that the death grip Reps hold on budget matters because of the 2/3rds requirement will now be tighter than ever. So look for lots of anti-tax triumphalism by the party of Grover Norquist, er, um, Lincoln.

2-“I absolutely despise taking money away from local government.” Besides looming battles over more cuts for education and cutting prisoners loose, the loudest fight will be over Schwarzenegger’s grab for $2 billion from local governments, in direct violation of his earlier promise not to do just that. With cities and counties scrambling to pay cops and firefighters while facing the same recession-level revenue problems as Sacramento, taking an extra hit so the Capitol Clown Show can pretend to balance the budget won’t be popular.

3-“You hope the economy is coming back.” That’s a bottom line underlying assumption of Schwarzenegger’s fiscal strategy at this point, whether the May 19 props pass or not. In addition to squeezing the locals by “borrowing” $2 billion, both his fixes also call for $6 billion in new borrowing through Revenue Anticipation Warrants and scheming to use federal stimulus money to backfill state cuts; in other words, kicking the can down the road, one more time.


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There are 7 comments for this post

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    Paging Willie Brown: why would Republican legislators who are being punished by fellow Republicans with recalls, shunning, and losing their leadership posts be immune to the possibility of raising taxes? Their own party doesn’t want them, and isn’t going to forgive them, so Dems should reach out to them. All it takes is a few.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    One has to think at least two things on the Willie Brown front:

    First, he would have made a difference on getting a deal, perhaps several deals, done to avoid this craziness…and,

    Second, the quality of folks in office in Sacramento is flat-out not what it was…term limits has worked…it has limited the quality of the minds – serious minds – who can actually provide tenable solutions to CA’s problems. The talent level of office holders ain’t what it was just a few short years ago…

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    How I love this optimism: Sort of like the cartoon seen in this morning’s newspaper ['Frank and Ernest'] = Scene: Optometrists Convention; one of the guys sez “OKAY, Let’s break into focus groups”!

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    Term limits have almost completely destroyed the legislature as an institution.

    No subject matter experts, few institutional staff left, no executive branch oversight, 18-month-long titles of “leadership” bestowed on children who barely know how to move a bill, one-issue wonders who only want to talk about their pet issue, “mortality obsession” with everyone plotting strategies and raising money for other campaigns (yes Joan, that’s you), and more than anything else a complete lack of long-term thinking. No matter how badly one “class” screws things up, it will be some other “class’s” job to fix it.

    Welcome to California.

    P.S. Remember when a four-year speakership was going to help solve these problems? What happened? Prince Fabio pimped Paris, sat on Arnie’s lap, drove the state into a ditch, won father-of-the-year award, and took $2 million on his way out the door.

    P.P.S. There is just nothing more pathetic than the ass-kissing idiots who flaunt their “leadership” titles as if there is one person in the world who gives a flying hoot that they are the Assistant Speaker Majority Deputy Floor Whip Leader Person. Folks, you’re acting like royalty when you’re less important than a fricking 6th grade class officer — you might be able to fool your parents into thinking you’re something important, but trust me, no one else is buying it. (Oh and don’t spend too much money on business cards — you only have 18 months to use ‘em!)

  5. avatar Greg says:

    Arnold…he’s still around?

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    Somehow the notion of Sacramento Bee columnist DAN WALTERS ‘bulking up’ for the Mr. America, 2010 competition is becoming more appealing. ;-)

  7. avatar Earnest Hussein Dodge says:

    I’m kinda looking forward to the fall of civilization in California.

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