Wednesday, July 22, 2009

smf midweek rant: THE BUDGET


Headline in The Times: OPPOSITION TO BUDGET DEAL ERUPTS - LA County threatens to sue, a state workers' union may strike and GOP protests release of prison inmates.

opinion by smf for 4LAKids

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 -- NOWHERE IN THE STATE CONSTITUTION does it say: "The Big Five shall retire to a secret room and come up with the state budget".

In the meshugas over the budget process and the resultant call for a Constitutional Convention maybe we should first think unconventionally …and get rid of the unconstitutional?

The idea, seemingly set in the granite and marble of the Capitol itself - that The Big Five writes the state budget all by themselves is only two budget cycles old and has failed miserably both times. 'Failed miserably' is Pollyannaish overstatement - California hasn't had a budget that passes the 'sniff test' of balance in recent memory …certainly not in Schwarzenegger Administration or the last few years of the Davis.

The concept of The Big Five retiring incommunicado without consulting with the legislature was dreamt-up by the last Big Five (only one of whom remains) to expedite the process of the '07-08 budget -- a moment of expedience at the expense of democracy.

"We'll eliminate the middlemen and cut to the chase." The middlemen/ muddlemen  bless their pointed-little-red-and-blue-heads, being the elected representatives of the people.

  • Despite all the promises and brow-and-breast beating,  July 17, 2007, a day that coincides roughly with the advent of the "Let The Big Five Do It Plan", was the last day California had a balanced cash flow with equal receipts and expenses.
  • Cash Flow measures receipts and expenses; and reflects actual money being actually spent; a budget is just a plan.
  • And the '07-08 Budget, if you'll recall, was rejected by Wall Street and returned to Sacramento marked NSF.

The result is an all-chase disaster movie. And the children/taxpayers/voters/ citizenry of the state are the hapless pushcart vendor stacking produce at the side of the road as the heroes and bad guys barrel down in a screech of tires and a flood of testosterone. I come from Hollywood: No one ever saved a bad script in post production.


PUNDIT-PROVOCATEUR DAN WALTERS - Dean of the Sacramento Reporters - opens his SacBee column today: "Were California a corporation, rather than a state, its officers would be playing tiddlywinks with Bernie Madoff in the federal slammer, having engaged in years of hide-the-pea accounting tricks, under-the-table loans and other gimmicks to cover up the state's perpetual operating deficits."

The Lege and the Gubernator didn't see the global economic collapse coming - but they did build their house o' cards in the Sacramento floodplain - and they haven't done a thing to bolster the levees in years. We can blame it on Props 13 and 98 and term limits, safe seats and the 2/3rds rule. Or we can blame ourselves for bad decision making in the ballot box. Because, gentle readers: we voted for the Lege and the Gov and those things.

Throwing all the metaphors into the blender: Our elected representatives failed to learn the First Law of Economics learned by every preschooler and kept-at-home-kid with a bubble wand and bottle of soap solution: Every Bubble Bursts.


Onward relentlessly!  - smf

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