Damned if we do, damned if we don’t

What they’re saying about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad-and-worse May budget revision proposals…

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“The message from the Governor’s May Revise is clear. California’s budget deficit continues to grow because of a National and International economic crisis that can be felt in every classroom, boardroom and unemployment office in the state. While Californians will have a chance to affect our budget deficit in next week’s election, it doesn’t change the fact that there are difficult choices ahead for this Legislature and the Governor. Regardless of what happens on May 19, on May 20 we will begin to respond to this fiscal challenge swiftly and responsibly, doing the best we can with the money we have.”

From Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles:

“The deep cuts included in both of Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals reflect the impact the extended national recession continues to have on California. We have consistently said that all issues must be on the table, so we will closely examine each and every one of the Governor’s proposals announced today. We understand the people of California don’t care about politics-as-usual when it comes to solving the budget, and we will reject any stunts or gimmicks that get in the way of serious solutions. Californians are frustrated and families who depend on services from the state –whether schools or firefighting or health care for children – are worried. We will work to solve the budget deficit in a way that protects a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, acknowledges the fact we need an educated workforce to keep our economy going, and respects the strains all Californians are facing in this economy.”

From you:


What’s that? You have nothing to say about it? But the governor himself today challenged every Californian, “If you don’t like the cuts, sit down with a pen and pencil and figure out where the money is going to come from.”

Hey, it’s even easier than that: Go use Next 10’s nonpartisan “California Budget Challenge,” a free online educational tool that lets users try to balance California’s budget and see how their choices will affect the state five years into the future. Everyone should take a stab at it, in order to understand what’s really at stake here.

More feedback on the governor’s proposals, after the jump…

From Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch:

“Cuts and borrowing is a double blow to our children. The cuts laid out today could under fund our schools by another $5.3 billion, and borrowing will saddle our kids with our debt for years to come. We need a responsible and balanced solution that includes revenue to pay for the things we care about. Our children cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of failed budget policy year after year.”

From Bay Area Council president and CEO Jim Wunderman:

“We elect leaders to make the tough compromises necessary to ensure the survival and success of our state. The Bay Area Council applauds Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders for doing just that, by negotiating a budget and Propositions 1A-F in the face one of the most severe budget crises in California’s history. We urge voters to support the ballot measures.

“There is a cacophony of noise surrounding these measures – but one message must ring through: if Proposition 1A passes, California will finally have a chance to create a functioning budget system. We must support it.

“On May 20th, the day after the election, California will not be done solving its problems – far from it. We will look to Governor Schwarzenegger, our other leaders in Sacramento, and, most importantly, the people of California to help guide us to the solutions we need.”

UPDATE @ 5:48 P.M.: From state Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta:

“As painful a reality as these reductions may be, the financial well-being of our state demands it. The truth is that if we had acted sooner, some of these tough choices could have been avoided.”

From state Treasurer Bill Lockyer:

“It’s imperative that the Governor and lawmakers reach quick agreement on an effective solution. Another prolonged, embarrassing political stalemate would further damage California’s credit reputation, hurt our ability to sell bonds, notes or warrants, and inflict unnecessary harm on taxpayers and crucial public services. The State already faces tough hurdles in meeting cash-flow borrowing requirements that could be unprecedented in size. A protracted delay would be one hurdle too many.”

From California Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer Art Pulaski:

“Governor Schwarzenegger’s May budget revision highlights the state’s dire need for new revenue sources, even as it fails to include them.

“New revenues are available – including those recently given away through useless corporate tax loopholes. These should be the first line of defense to spare the jobs and state services needed by California’s working families.

“It’s time for the governor and legislators of both parties to go back to the drawing board and get real about fair solutions to the state budget.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR

    Translated into more or less English—Duh, huh, duh?

  • John W

    I love all the buzz about the guv using “scare tactics” and the “Washington Monument Syndrome.” What do people think will happen when the $15 billion hole grows to $21 billion — 25% of the general fund, or worse? As for hard choices, there are only so many places they can go in the general fund to cut that kind of money. So, it’s more a matter of spelling out the bad news than deciding which way to go. I don’t see a groundswell for any taxes.

  • ulno

    Consider the real cost of state, county, and city jobs:
    lets look at some openings currently available for the state: (You didn’t know they are hiring? Sure, lots of hiring _still_ going on _right_now.)

    Lets pick one spot from the Coastal Commission: Coastal Program Analyst. Salary: $5616/month.

    This salary does _not_ count the retirement benefits. An individual who starts work in this position at age 25 and works for 30 years can then expect to retire at age 55 and get 2% per year (that’s 60%) of their final year’s salary. Using the pay raise rate, they can expect to be earning $8000 a month by that time. So they can retire at about $5k a month. At age 55, the average life expectancy is 30 years. That means the effective pay for that person is really double the upfront $5k. If that person did not have a retirement, like regular non-public employees, the equivalent salary would be closer to $10k to be comparable to the benefit received by working as a public employee.

    The average school district is now spending over 30% of their budget on retirees. Ditto with state spending. Public employee salaries are bankrupting the budget.