Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New State Budget Plan Fails

By Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 10:57 AM

As the Chron reports, the state Assembly spent yesterday failing to find a way out of the multi-billion-dollar hole California now finds itself in. And yes, you can blame the two-thirds majority rule. To recap: the Dems put forward a bill to raise taxes (one that has the support of the Republican governor), but it failed by a party-line vote, even with the substantial Democratic majority. The Republicans were drawing up a plan to cut $10 billion in education spending and transfer health care funds to the general fund, but the bill wasn't ready. Speaker Karen Bass locked everyone in the Assembly until the bill could come to the floor, but relented late last night when it became clear that the bill just wouldn't be ready for a floor vote. This latest debacle coincided with an L.A. Times think piece on whether California is simply ungovernable. The gist: California is split into at least three self-contained regions, which don't have much sympathy for the others' needs and fight over resources like water. The two-thirds majority rule on the budget gives an inordinate amount of power to a handful of legislators, and the state's diversity guarantees that there will always be that handful that has nothing whatsoever in common with the rest of the state. (Think white Santa Barbara ranchers vs. Latino moms in Watts.) Read the whole thing; it's disconcerting and useful. And it has a great quote by former Don Perata spokesman Jason Kinney: "There's only 120 people in the state who don't care when Arnold Schwarzenegger calls them, and it's the members of the Legislature." He may have flacked for The Don, but Jason always has a way with words.

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