Darrell Steinberg: “I’m done cutting”

In the aftermath of the May 19 special election Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg claimed a mandate from voters to make cuts – and as he said, “cut we will.”

As we’ve seen, that hasn’t worked out so well for California. Our economy has worsened as government has contracted, leading to increased unemployment along with the financial and even physical distress that comes with reduced availability of health care services.

Perhaps Steinberg has learned from these mistakes, because in an article in today’s Sac Bee, he says “I’m done cutting”:

Steinberg said he’s not at all happy he had to cast votes for cuts – and he added, “I’m done cutting.”

“I feel very strongly,” he said, “that we’ve gone beyond what is reasonable when it comes to cuts.”

But he is, as [Marty] Omoto suggested, proud that he pushed for “surgical” cuts and that California government remains standing despite all the talk about the state being ungovernable.

California’s government is like a punch-drunk boxer. Sure, it’s standing, but not for much longer. The cuts Steinberg agreed to have weakened the state immensely, leaving us not only deeper in recession but making it unlikely we will see economic recovery anytime soon. Most employers and economists I’ve spoken to are convinced California will be among the last states in the country to recover from this recession.

That will exacerbate the looming budget crisis in 2011, when the combination of the expiration of the temporary tax increases approved in February and the borrowing gimmicks done in the last three budget deals come together to produce a budget deficit that could be as high as $20 billion – assuming the economy doesn’t get any worse between now and then.

I’m glad to see Steinberg realizes we can’t make any more cuts. It’s time to embrace sensible, populist revenue solutions and become aggressive – even fearless – about selling them to the people of California.