Thursday, July 16, 2009
2009 California budget held hostage -- Day 16
The failure of state leaders to resolve California's latest budget crisis really should be blamed on its action-hero governor, whose inexperience has gone beyond being a source of amusement to an outright disgrace. No doubt, California voters thought they were voting for compromise when they ousted former Democratic governor Grey Davis and elected Schwarzenegger back in 2003, and then re-elected him in 2006. Instead, what they got was even worse legislative gridlock. The issue made news again today because an expected budget compromise collapsed yesterday, according to the Reuters international news service, and the state has been forced to pay its bills with IOUs. Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in the state Assembly but are six votes short of two-thirds in the Senate, and California is one of the few states that require a supermajority to pass a budget. And that is the problem, at least on the surface. Schwarzenegger has so little influence on his party colleagues in the state Senate that he cannot even convince three to change their minds and support the budget. Actually, this is colossal arrogance by Republicans and utter incompetence by Schwarzenegger. Millions of California residents and businesses depend on the state to conduct itself professionally; today, they are hostages to political bickering. The state legislature really only has one job, to pass the budget. The governor has the power to do pretty much everything else. So why do Californians spend millions of dollars every year to keep its legislature meeting in luxury and pay its legislators lavish salaries, if they can't even accomplish this?