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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Put The Governor's Bill To A Vote

At Calitics, Robert makes quick work of the new and not improved Gov. Schwarzenegger prescriptions for disaster, trying to fill an entire $21 billion dollar deficit (which is now more like $24 billion according to the Legislative Analyst) with cuts. I cannot completely argue with the decision to cancel the RAW (revenue anticipation warrants), because bad borrow and spend policies, as Noreen Evans explained, part of the problem in Sacramento, not the solution ("Like paying your bills with your credit card when you don't have the money to afford it.")

But to replace that entirely with cuts to things like CalWorks, Cal Grants and Healthy Families would place a massive hole in the social safety net. This would, for example, roll back children's health coverage at the moment that the federal government would expand it. And nobody ought to look forward to being the only state without emergency poison control services.

This is going to get worse, by the way. The offshore drilling plan Arnold proposed lost a key environmental supporter this week, threatening that $1.8 billion solution. And Tim Geithner's apparent suggestion that loan guarantees require an act of Congress, while immaterial to the budget at this point, really hinders the ability to solve the short-term cash crunch. Basically the entire budget would have to get passed before one dime of borrowing could take place, otherwise the borrowing is unlikely to even happen, and even when it does it will be prohibitively expensive.

So, what to do? I think Greg Lucas is on to something. It's time to embarrass Governor Hoover. Put his bill on the floor and watch it get a half-dozen votes.

Bringing the GOP governor’s plan to a vote accomplishes several things.

It establishes how many initial votes exist for the plan. Not many, presumably. Will Republicans vote for it or are the cuts too deep even for them? Or should they choose to dismiss the action as a “drill” and not participate, an opportunity is presented for Democrats to score some coup on their political opponents.

A somewhat simplistic example: “All we hear from Republicans is that they want to cut state spending. Well, here’s a chance to do so and yet they sit on their hands.”

Bringing the proposal to a vote also attracts the media spotlight. Parents might be interested to know about the $6.3 billion in payments to public schools the governor would defer for one year, a figure that doesn’t include the $8 billion the state already owes schools.

What the plan does to immigrants, the developmentally disabled, the elderly who receive in-home care also might be of interest to the public which so recently decided to make the fiscal problem worse.

The public might also like to know that $12 billion of the governor’s $21 billion worth of actions are one-time and that embracing them makes it harder to solve future budget messes.

Essentially, it's time to build a set of facts and put people on the record. There has to be some long-term thinking here, and some public explanation of the implications of a Hoover-like budget. Like there was no reason for Democrats to play nice with George Bush when he was at 28% in the polls, there similarly is no reason to play nice with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is basically despised.

Time to kick sand in the face of the bully.

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