Over on her budget blog, Asseembly Budget Chair Noreen Evans talks about the upcoming mess of a budget season.

I was reminded of an old saying in politics while reading the new report released this week by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO): “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Over the next 18 months we face a $20.7 billion gap in the state’s General Fund: $6.3 billion in the current budget year and a $14.4 billion gap in 2010-2011. A $21.3 billion out-year budget gap follows in 2011-2012.

Robert made a persuasive argument that the Democrats in both Sacramento and DC should simply band together to say “No Cuts.” That would be the optimal solution. Yet, as Robert also pointed out, even Democrats, save for Party Chair John Burton, are pretty much acknowledging that there will be cuts.  At this point, it looks like Asm. Evans’ biggest hope is that at least this time there will be transparency:

Furthermore, the public is just now beginning to see the results of the cuts we made last summer-classrooms are larger, state colleges are getting more expensive, DMV offices are closing, state parks are closing, and courthouses are closed one day a month, already resulting in a severe backlog of cases. The public must be asked to weigh in on how much more it will tolerate.

Since the budget pains will be here to stay for a while, the budget decisions ahead of us must be made out in the open with significant public input. And, every solution available to us must be on the table.

That much is true. We need more transparency, and I’ve written about that, very serious, problem in the past.  But, as I did then, I will include the comment that the lack of transparency is a symptom of the problem, not the cure nor the underlying illness.

But how about we flip the script a bit from how this normally works? Normally, you get a very persistent Republican winger bloc to say no new taxes.  How about we get a progressive bloc to say, at the very least, no budget deal without new revenue. We can’t simply continue to give ground at every opportunity to those who would happily sacrifice our social safety net. Ideally, yes, we would say “No Cuts.” But until we get the gumption for more than just Sandre Swanson to oppose the budget deal on progressive grounds, we are going to get rolled every time.

4 thoughts on “Desperation”

  1. One of the four most expensive parts of the budget is the prison system (the other three are K-12 education, university education, and health and human services). We look up too many people. Let the potheads go (as well as the people who sold pot in small amounts); also review the cases of senior citizen prisoners who would be no threat if released.

  2. As soon as the so called Big 5 go into the back room to discuss the budget the process becomes very opaque, just as it did in the water legislation.  It is yet another example of the manner in which the leadership of both parties have broken faith with the citizens of California.  I don’t remember any time when we were faced with a very un-democratic, top down, lobbyist driven legislative process. They go in the back room, make all the decision, and then come out to sell the swill to the poor sad citizens of this once exciting state.

    We need more than a New Deal, I think that we need to redefine the compact between government and the citizen because there is no fundamental agreement as to what that is.

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