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

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Play Destroy California, The Home Game

You can actually see the full list of proposed cuts by the Governor here. He has engaged in several tricks to actually slow down the dispersal of the cuts, priming himself for the moment when the Legislature must hurry up and approve everything he proposes immediately. It's a neat trick. He released the cuts in stages, with multiple changes, so the relevant committees could not get a full picture. Finally, the full release comes with a little more than a week to go. Noreen Evans, for one, is pissed, and Aaron McLear responds with a healthy dose of sexism.

At the budget conference committee Monday, Assembly Budget Committeee Chairwoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, vented some of her frustrations at chief deputy finance director Ana Matosantos.

Noting that the governor had made three separate revisions to his May budget, Evans curtly asked Matosantos "Are we done now?"

Evans’ cross-examination of Matosantos garnered an angry reply from the administration. “We will continue to revise our budget numbers as the situation deteriorates,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. “It is our sincere hope that Assemblywoman Evans will be able to keep up.”

McLear is an ass, and his point is ridiculous - nothing's changed in the three days between new documents of cuts. This is a deliberate attempt to keep everything fuzzy and not permanent right up until the moment when it all must pass. It's a typical shell game.

As to the document, among some of the goodies not already announced:

• The state will increase withholding by 10%, essentially getting an interest-free loan from the citizens. Employees can opt out, and I'm sure everyone will know to do that.
• The proposal to borrow $2 billion from local governments remains. This at the same time when Arnold proposes budget "solutions" like moving inmates to county jails, INCREASING their budget burden.
• Eliminating general fund money to stop domestic violence.
• Like everything else, the savings in corrections are vague and potentially unworkable, and almost all the savings in the corrections budget are in precisely the kind of programs we need to expand, like rehabilitation, vocational training, and substance abuse programs.
• I've also heard about eliminating the state's funding of vote by mail ballots, but that's not in this document (and sounds patently illegal, if the ballots couldn't go out).

It's all good, though, because we can just get volunteers to monitor all the state parks. Sounds like a perfect plan.

The sneakiest part of this whole budget deal, the capper, is that Arnold is proposing a LARGER budget reserve than in previous years, essentially mandating Prop. 1A despite its loss. He's actually capping spending.

In recent days, the governor has introduced new budget cuts, including plans to eliminate popular state programs like CalWORKS and Healthy Families, eliminate millions in funding for state parks, and to lay off up to 5,000 state employees.

But in Monday’s conference committee hearing, Evans pointed out that the governor’s latest proposal had a budget reserve of more than $4 billion, even while proposing cuts to popular programs that would not have to be eliminated if the reserve were smaller.

McLear defended the governor’s numbers. “There’s a need to have a reserve,” he said. “The swings in revenue are so dramatic, and we have to make sure we’re able to pay the bills.”

Times like these are what the budget reserve was invented for.

What will happen over the next two weeks is that the Governor will keep tweaking and tweaking, right up until the day where he says "Pass this now or else." And given the state of the Democrats in the legislature, I'm not sanguine about the reaction.

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