Justene at Calblog has a nice summary of the state’s current budget predicament but then concludes that, with the July 1 fiscal year deadline looming, “it’ll be ugly very soon.” I disagree. For all their huffing and puffing, the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are less than $2 billion apart on a $71 billion general fund. The Republicans have said they will not vote for a tax increase, and that is the only thing on which they will not negotiate. Well the only tax increase in the Senate budget plan on which the Republicans are being asked to vote is the half-cent increase in the sales tax, which is expected to raise $1.7 billion in the coming fiscal year. So with about $1.7 billion more in trims, the Democrats could put a budget up for a vote that could hold together (briefly) without the Republicans voting for a tax hike. It would rely on the recently tripled car tax, but Republicans won’t have to vote for that because Davis has done it already by remote control. It would include hundreds of millions of dollars in new fees, but those are majority-vote bills, so Republicans won’t have to vote for that. And it would surely leave the state facing a deficit the year after next of at least $8 billion. But Republicans, while they might not like that, haven’t said they won’t vote for a budget that doesn’t completely fix the state’s structural problems. So how likely is it that the Democrats will go along with another $1.7 billion in cuts? Consider that Gov. Davis, nominally the head of the Democratic Party in California, has proposed more than $3.5 billion in cuts this year which are not in the current version of the Democratic budget plan. The legislative analyst, who is fiercely non-partisan but answers to the Democratic controlled Legislature, has offered another $1 billion or so in possible cuts. From that menu, I think the Dems could find the cuts they need to win Republican votes for a budget plan. The Democrats wouldn’t like it, because they’d think it would be too rough on the poor. I wouldn’t like it, because I think it would irresponsibly push the state’s problems off into the future. But if you want a budget by the deadline or shortly thereafter, it’s within sight. They just need to put it together. And I think they might.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:07 PM
--Best nomination for Arnold campaign slogan, repeating a line from T3 that he's using in movie promotions. (Suggested by a loyal Sacramento-area reader)
Posted by dweintraub at 7:18 AM