Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 16, 2009
AM Alert: First to Durst

PooledBoard.jpgThe speech is done. The reactions are in. And the state still faces a looming cash crisis and a enormous deficit over the next year-and-a-half.

(But, if you have a minute, check out Bee photographer Brian Baer's photo gallery of the speech.)

Today, state Controller John Chiang will outline how he will prioritize spending come February, when California is expected to be unable to pay all its bills.

Later, the obscure State Pooled Money Investment Board will meet to consider loosening the freeze it placed on $3.8 billion worth of infrastructure project financing in December.

The board, which is composed of Chiang, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Finance Director Mike Genest, voted to cut off funding to conserve money on Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, the California Alliance for Jobs, a group that promotes construction projects in the state, hit the radio on Thursday with ads blasting the Legislature for failing to pass a budget fix.

Comedian Will Durst is the voice of the ads. The meat of one spot:

Get this; the State is about to stop funding hundreds of infrastructure projects - roads, schools, and levee repairs we desperately need. And that would put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Nice Job guys. Your endless rhetoric over the budget gives new meaning to "blowing in the wind". We need real negotiations and real compromise - a budget that balances major cuts AND revenue increases. . .and we need it now.

And that's the gentler spot. In the other, Durst accuses lawmakers of "digging our financial grave."

Finally, a familiar face was in the Capitol on Thursday to hear Schwarzenegger's big speech: ex-Gov. Gray Davis, no stranger to mammoth budget shortfalls.

"It's deja vu," Davis told reporters after the speech, according to AP. "California has experienced feast-or-famine budgeting as long as I can recall, and (it) will go on for all eternity until the people pass a genuine rainy day fund."

Ok, seriously Gray, did you use the verb "recall" on purpose?

Photo: State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, center, Finance Director Mike Genest, left, and Controller John Chiang, right, -- the three members of the usually obscure Pooled Money Investment Board -- on December 17, 2008. Credit: Renee Byer/Sacramento Bee



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