Kevin Yamamura has a story today on the nature of the budget fights now in the court systems.
The Republican governor openly complains about the judiciary these days for blocking budget decisions and forcing California to find billions of dollars elsewhere. Recent judgments have contributed to the state’s $20.7 billion projected deficit.
Courts have ruled that California’s attempts to divert transit and redevelopment money are illegal. They have found in some cases that the state cannot furlough workers. They have blocked rate cuts for in-home care workers and Medi-Cal providers. … “Everything that hasn’t been nailed down has been cut,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. “What’s left is the legally questionable stuff.” (SacBee)
While legislating via the courts is really nothing new in California, there is a difference of magnitude over the last few years. Most of this is about the system. The system that denies democracy from the start with the 2/3 requirements scattered all over the constitution, yields decisions that are unsurprisingly poor. So, we get legal fights from the State Compensation Fund to the line item vetoes. And we get a pissed off Governator:
“Whenever they agree with me, they’re right, very simple,” Schwarzenegger said wryly in a Capitol news conference. “When they don’t agree with me, they’re wrong and they’re interfering with our governing of the state.”
But sassing the courts really helps nobody, and only takes our eyes off the systemic problems. We are in legal problems because we don’t let the majority govern. We have a system that allows no one body to look at the totality of what’s coming in and what’s going out. The legislature can’t prioritize and the governor can only really posture.
And so, we get a series of judges answering large questions on the budget, questions that would, in any sort of a normal situation, be left to our elected leaders. And Governor, you have yourself to thank for that as much as anybody else.