The Inevitable Tax Drop
You can almost set your watch by it. The state budget picture is a mess, Democrats ask for a balanced solution, Republicans hold their ground and say no, Democrats don't have the vote so they let it go. It happens practically every single year, and it's happening again, according to CapAlert:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said separately Thursday that they are optimistic a budget deal can be struck within several days.
The tone of their comments marked a stark contrast to Capitol fighting over the last few weeks between Democrats and Republicans over bridging the state's $26.3 billion budget gap.
Steinberg also said Democrats had given up any attempt to increase taxes on tobacco or establish an oil severance tax [...]
The Senate president said that Democrats no longer are pushing for a 9.9 percent tax on oil extraction or for hiking the state's tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack.
"We would like to see an increase in the tobacco tax and the oil severance tax as a solution, but in this chapter that's not realistic and it's not what we're holding out for," Steinberg said.
It's never going to be realistic in ANY CHAPTER. Republicans know exactly how to play this game. Their votes are needed for tax increases, so if they hang together they cannot lose. The Democrats haven't figured out how to shame the Yacht Party or make them pay for their votes, giving them no reason to do anything but hijack the process. You'll notice that as a result of this horrific experiment in governance, California is operating worse than practically every other state in the union.
We've seen this kind of "it's almost over" trial balloon on many occasions, so I wouldn't put on the party hats just yet. But somehow at the end of this process, somebody will step up to a microphone and claim how reaching agreement is a sign of success. No. It's a sign of failure. A failure to responsibly manage the state's finances, reflected by the worst economy in 70 years. The only lesson that can be learned from this process is that it's fundamentally broken.
P.S. You'll be thrilled to know that Schwarzenegger still sleeps well at night.
Schwarzenegger and I then repaired to a tent that he had put up in a courtyard next to his office, which allows him to smoke cigars legally at work (no smoking is allowed inside the Capitol). The tent is about 15 square feet, carpeted with artificial turf and outfitted with stylish furniture, an iPod, a video-conferencing terminal, trays of almonds, a chess table, a refrigerator and a large photo of the governor. Schwarzenegger reclined deeply in his chair, lighted an eight-inch cigar and declared himself “perfectly fine,” despite the fiscal debacle and personal heartsickness all around him. “Someone else might walk out of here every day depressed, but I don’t walk out of here depressed,” Schwarzenegger said. Whatever happens, “I will sit down in my Jacuzzi tonight,” he said. “I’m going to lay back with a stogie.”
This is the guy who dares to chide others for not doing their job.