As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

25 Things About The California Budget

Done for the Facebook reference: I may not get to 25.

1. One bit of schadenfreude in this is that Doug McIntyre of KABC and the comment section of the OC Register are flipping out over the heretics who broke with dogma and voted for tax increases. McIntyre was particularly incensed about a Sacramento Bee editorial lauding Dave Cogdill as a "hero." He's not a hero, he's an extortionist, but McIntyre was calling him a guy who "took money out of your pocket to give to someone else." Typical Yacht Party jihadism.

2. It's very clear to me that this got wrapped up today before the Yacht Party's meeting in Sacramento, just blocks from the Capitol, so the spectacle of the crazies on the lawn demanding that old people eat cat food and public schools use the weeds out back for lunches be averted.

3. Joan Buchanan voted for the budget and then voluntarily cut her pay 10% in the name of shared sacrifice. It's a stunt, but it will probably go down well back home.

4. One loser in all of this is Zed Hollingsworth. He got nothing in this budget for his newly-minted Minority Leadership, including no re-negotiation, and the next major talks may not be until summer 2010, at which point a repeal of 2/3 may be a fait accompli. Meanwhile he's already embarrassed himself by scheduling a $1,000-a-person fundraiser with fat cat lobbyists just HOURS after being made leader, one that generated such bad press he had to cancel it.

5. The big winner in all of this, perhaps the only one? Twitter. In a cavernous Capitol with a dearth of political reporting, the microblogging site was practically the only way to get quality information in real time. It cannot replace in-depth analysis for a mass audience, but it was great for opinion leaders.

6. Though I've knocked him in the past, kudos to John Burton for recognizing the real problem and seeking to boldly fix it. From an e-mail:

If the last 48 hours has proven nothing else, we can no longer allow Republicans to hold the people of California hostage and therefore dictate to the Democratic majority the terms under which the budget is passed.

California should join the 47 other states who don't require a supermajority to pass the budget.

If I am elected as the next Chair of the California Democratic Party, I will make majority vote budget a top priority.

7. The federal stimulus is really helping out to reduce the pain in this budget. It does appear that as much as $10 billion dollars will flow to California in this fiscal year, which would "trigger" some jiggering to the cuts (which would be reduced by $950 million) and the tax hikes (reduced by $1.8 billion). It's an open question whether or not all of them can be spent right away because of the cash crunch, but we'll have to see how the markets react.

8. This is a baseline overview of the deal. The cuts are going to be really, really bad: 10% across the board for education, huge cuts for public transit operations, health care, etc. The new revenues basically fill in the loss of revenue from massive unemployment. Essentially, this is the same level of spending as a decade ago, adjusted for inflation and COLA, despite greater need and higher population. Not pretty.

9. Capitol Weekly reports that the cuts could hit Republican-leaning areas harder:

But data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) suggests that cuts under the budget plan approved Thursda morning could likely hit many Republican areas hardest—while the tax burden is already falling more heavily on Democratic leaning counties.

According to the data distributed by Assembly Budget Committee chairwoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, the majority of the counties using the most in state services are generally represented by Republicans. When this data on 2007-2008 state spending is compared to registration data from the Secretary of State’s office, it shows that seven out of the top 10 counties receiving state expenditures, measured per capita, have Republican registration majorities. Of the top 10 counties that contributed the most per capita tax dollars in 2006, eight have Democratic registration majorities.

“I hate to put this in partisan terms, but it’s the wealthier counties who are paying that are represented by Democrats,” Evans said. “Everybody needs to take a step back and look at what the data actually says.”

Food for thought.

10. Wrapping the week up into a nice little bow, on the day the deal was secured, they found Lance Armstrong's bike.

11. There's a big TV/film production credit in here. While as a member of the industry I'm mindful of runaway production, I reject the "race to the bottom" that constant credits to get crews to shoot in California presume. It's corporate welfare, essentially.

12. The "single sales factor apportionment," which is the massive business tax cut, doesn't kick in until FY2011, predictably and conveniently after Gov. Schwarzenegger is out of office and it will be someone else's problem to make up the revenue! It's almost like somebody planned it that way!

13. Of the items on the May ballot, only privatizing the lottery would really kill this whole thing and send everybody back to the bargaining table. That would be $5 billion in lost projected revenue for this fiscal year. But it's a NET LOSS OVER TIME, which is what makes the provision so completely absurd. Also, I'm not convinced anyone wants to buy our lottery, as revenue has shriveled in the past year.

14. Arnold still has $600 million in line-item vetoes to make to bring this into balance. Hands up if you think they will impact the poor, the elderly, the blind, and others with almost no voice in Sacramento!

15. Karen Bass is vowing "additional Legislative actions before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1." So get ready for more fun!

There is no 16-25.

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