California's Governor is "restarting" budget talks today. Of course, "restarting" should read "using the same failed process that cannot possibly be successful." The Governor vetoed the only game in town because he's controlled by strings held by the Chamber of Commerce, who suddenly looked favorably on the virtues of bankrupting the state, and Arnold had to follow. The SacBee ed board puts it more judiciously.
Democrats agreed to a 2 percent cut in welfare grants, and some, but not all, of the environmental exemptions. They also have insisted that the governor first negotiate with unions before attempting to furlough state employees and eliminate some paid holidays.
In an interview and op-ed in The Bee Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suggested the deal blew up not because of policy differences, but because of political pressure placed on Schwarzenegger. Steinberg says the governor got "cold feet" over the Democrats' plan to raise taxes and fees through a majority vote.
There may be some truth to this. On Tuesday, the California Chamber of Commerce issued a statement urging the governor to veto the Democrats' plan, saying it included "unconstitutional and discriminatory tax increases." Since the chamber is one of the governor's few political allies, their stern opposition to increasing taxes by a simple majority vote may well have led Schwarzenegger to backpedal.
The ed board goes on to criticize Democratic leaders for not wanting to cut enough. You know, I thought a mid-year budget deal was designed to fix the budget for the current fiscal year. If we have two-year budget cycles now, it's news to me. I understand the logic of a two-year cycle, but the desire to fill an 18-month gap in January puzzles me and seems designed to further more draconian cuts.
And the continued ignoring of the elephant in the room and casting this as a failure of both sides to compromise is truly absurd. There has been nothing but compromise coming from the Democrats, not just now but for years. "Bipartisanship" has always meant "do whatever Republicans want" to the Very Serious Media. George Skelton today is lamenting the loss of Leon Panetta, as if a guy telling lawmakers they should have more drinks together is the answer to every problem the state faces.
This isn't rocket science. Lawmakers aren't allowed to do their jobs. We elect a representative government along majority votes, and them load them down with rules that prevent majority rule. It doesn't take a genius - or even Leon Panetta! - to fix that. Just an acknowledgement of the problem.
(Incidentally, a judge threw out the lawsuit from the Howard Jarvis crowd attempting to rule the work-around budget unconstitutional, since it was vetoed and therefore not germane. If it comes to such a work-around again, however, expect more lawsuits.)