For those of my readers not in California, I would like to say “Congratulations!”. At least you don’t live in a state that is in crisis on top of already living in a country in crisis. I am still trying to believe that the sky isn’t falling, but its becoming harder and harder with what is going on. Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and AIG are all in trouble. I know that a lot of it has to do with poor choices in lending, but what happens to all the people who have their money or 401K invested with these institutions? I don’t really know but I will attempt to learn more. But back to Cali and why living here is no bueno right now. The State is over 77 days (that is more than 2 ½ months) late in passing a budget bill. This entire time the State Senate and the Assembly have been fighting along party lines with the Republicans sticking it to the Dems, in return for the Dems sticking it to the Reps all year long. It is not until they need 2/3 vote to pass the budget that compromise becomes necessary. Throw in the Governator and you have one political mess.
After much back and forth, the legislature passed a budget around 2:30 a.m. and was promptly threatened with a veto from the Governor, because it did not include all 3 of his budget reform initiatives he demanded. The “rainy day fund” which is to be created to save money when the economy is doing well for year’s when there is a budget shortfall did not come with the restriction Ah-nold proposed. I understand to some extent why he is digging in his heels on this point, because without restrictions on when the money can be pulled from this fund, it could turn into just another pot of money for the State to pull out of at its whim. At the same time, it took this long to pass any budget legislation, I don’t know if 77 days in is really the point at which we want to go back to the drawing board.
When I was in graduate school studying public policy, I assumed that legislation was crafted from research, common sense and thoughtfulness. But after spending sometime in D.C. actually reading legislation, I learned what a hodgepodge of ideas and solutions a successful bill includes. Why? Because every legislator wants to be able to point to how they personally assisted their constituency or prove that they are not just in Sacramento or D.C. saying Yay or Nay. The result is often a very long, impossibly confusing bill that very few people ever read from start to finish.
If Ah-nold sticks to his guns and vetoes the budget, it will be up to the legislature to override him. If they do, he promises to veto every other bill waiting for his approval. In the end, it’s a game of chicken being played with the administration of one of the largest economies in the World, and I’m scared to see who will veer first.