The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 22, 2009
Shared sacrifice: What would you give up for a budget deal?
973-shared.highlight.prod_affiliate.4.gifLast week, The Bee's editorial page ran an eight-day series of editorials examining the big interest groups whose demands are contributing to the state's $40 billion budget impasse. You can find the lead editorial here along with links to others in the series.

As part of "Shared Sacrifice," we set up an on-line forum and urged readers to tell us what they would give up -- as a member of an interest group -- to help bridge the state's budget gap.

Many of the responses were of the predictable "blame someone else" mode. But a few were thoughtful and to the point. Here's one from a reader with a persona named "WilburHaynes."

I am a non-union state employee. Because we are all in serious trouble, I am resigned to accepting a temporary pay cut but am highly skeptical that other more powerful constituencies will contribute their share. I am prepared to pay a much higher gasoline tax to help us move away from imported oil. I am willing to pay the old vehicle license tax which Arnold imprudently cut, taking on a new burden of billions on the general fund to replace the counties' lost VLF revenue. I am willing to pay higher income taxes because it is another distasteful necessity.

But I am not willing to take a 10% hit it salary while other sacred cow groups escape pitching in their share because of their political muscle, and while the electeds continue to avoid the need to implement recommendations by CPR, Little Hoover, State Auditor et al to eliminate all the bureaucratic waste, stupid procurement practices, pointless boards and commissions, etc. Yet I am, sadly, quite sure that is precisely what will occur. The politically powerless will take serious hits, the sacred cows will remain untouchable, and the electeds will continue to fail to address the real problems.

Wilbur makes a good point. It's a delicate dance, this budget deal. If everyone fears they might be dropped onto the floor, no one will want to tango.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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