Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tis The Season For California To Have No Budget

Once again California enters a new fiscal year without a budget. It's an annual ritual here for the Legislature to miss the legal deadline to pass a budget. This analysis by Los Angeles Times political writer George Skelton provides a good factual explanation of the situation this year, except when he criticizes The Governator's car tax cut of several years ago. (Here.) Isn't it strange how letting taxpayers keep more of their own money is always the problem and not too much spending?

Skelton is only partly correct at the end of his column when he blames the impasse on California's requirement of a 2/3 legislative majority to pass a budget. The supermajority requirement does make passing a budget difficult. But the real problem is lack of accountability.

Although California has no budget life goes on as normal. Most state employees continue to get their paychecks. State benefits continue to get paid. The only people who suffer are vendors under contract with the state and they are a small constituency with little or no political clout.

So why should legislators care? Voters aren't affected so they will not take it out on the politicians come election time. But if the state were forced to shut down when there was no budget, there'd be a 2/3 vote by the deadline every year. Fear focuses the mind.


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