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July 8, 2009

CA Voters Kept In Dark About Budget

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Today's San Jose Mercury News has a front-page story, California leaders in no hurry to break budget impasse. From the story,

Despite plunging tax revenues, Wall Street's unwillingness to loan the state money and billions of dollars worth of IOUs hitting mailboxes, California's leaders are displaying a seeming lack of urgency to close the state's $26.3 billion deficit.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders blew past a supposedly ironclad June 30 deadline to pass a new budget...

Blew past? The legislature did pass a budget fix last week, but the Governor vetoed it! This choice by the Governor led to the state needing to issue IOUs.

To their credit (I guess) the San Jose paper hinted at the veto in an editorial a week ago, Governor didn't need to push state over the edge, writing,

In rejecting a stopgap fix for the budget on Tuesday, the governor and GOP leaders have accelerated a budget meltdown that pushes the state deeper into debt."

Talking to people involved, I pick up a sense that passing a budget fix after the Governor said he would veto it was pointless, so not worth mentioning. But isn't that for the voters to decide?  Many would say that passing the fix, especially at the last minute after all negotiations had failed and the state was going over the cliff was the responsible thing to do, also known as governing. This put a budget fix on the table and available for use to avoid the calamity and cost of IOUs, rating downgrades, etc. The Governor had a clear choice at that point, and chose to take the state over the cliff.  The voters should have been told, not kept in the dark that the Governor made that choice.

Meanwhile, the other side still refuses to offer up any plan of their own, still insisting that the Democrats fix the budget entirely with cuts to services that the public needs and take the blame for that.  They refuse to allow any plan that asks oil or tobacco companies to pitch in. They claim the wealthy will "leave the state" if asked to pitch in an additional $40 a week. They make up stories about companies leaving the state (but can't name any). But it is not reported that the Republicans refuse to offer a plan or engage in serious negotiations. It is as if the Republicans are expected to not be serious, so it's not worth reporting that they aren't serious. The voters should have been told.

The system of democracy depends on the voters being informed so they can apply pressure as needed and remove officeholders who are not doing what the voters want them to do.  But none of this works if the citizens have no way of learning simple facts, like that the legislature did govern responsibly and pass a budget fix, which the Governor vetoed. The voters should have been told.

Click through to Speak Out California.

Posted by Dave Johnson at July 8, 2009 3:34 PM


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