What could Don Perata have done to piss off the Sacto Bee so much? Last week, the paper published an editorial begging the lame-duck Senate president to leave town and let his successors get on with the business of governing. Today, the paper publishes another editorial smacking him around. The piece starts off with a startling statistic: we could eliminate all $19 billion we spend on prisons and higher education, and still face a multi-billion-dollar deficit. Then, after briefly mentioning Republican state legislators' infuriating obstinacy when it comes to raising taxes, the editorial reserves its fieriest ire for The Don.
"Probably the most pathetic response came from Don Perata," the editorial read. "On Friday, one day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged legislators to adopt harsh but prudent cuts and tax increases in the current special session, Perata effectively undercut the governor. In an interview with KQED, he said 'the best compromise' that Californians could expect would be a tax measure that would go to the ballot. In other words, even before negotiations had started, Perata was ready to throw up his hands to avoid the hard work of pressuring Republicans to consider a tax increase. And he was willing to do so at grave peril to the state's solvency."
We've done our share of hatin' on The Don, and we don't lkie complicated budget decisions made at the ballot. But we hardly think he qualifies as the "most pathetic" actor in the state's budget woes. Governor Schwarzenegger ran on a promise to rescind a raise in the state's vehicle license fee, which cost California $4 billion. The Republican state legislature hasn't considered a tax in, what, decades? The correctional officers' union and determinate sentencing for drug offenses have created a gulag archipelago that bleeds billions from the treasury every year
But hey, maybe the Bee's editors know something about Perata we don't. It wouldn't be the first time.