After staying up into the wee hours Thursday morning, California finally has a budget, thanks to significant concessions granted to one Republican state senator, Abel Maldonado, who said, according to the Sacramento Bee, "I don't like the budget; I don't like the revenue increases, but I don't want California to fall off the cliff."
For those Californians who have children in public schools, however, there's still a distinct sensation of free fall. As the Wall Street Journal reported, "The proposal calls for the state to slash $15 billion in spending, including $8.6 billion from education."
Equally disgruntling, in return for his vote, Maldonado got Democrats to agree to get rid of a proposed 12 cent gas tax hike, which would have brought in another $2.1 billion over the next 18 months. "The money will be replaced with a 0.25 percent increase in the state income tax, federal stimulus dollars and more than $600 million in line-item vetoes," reported the Journal.
Nice. Personally, after having lived through $4.50-a-gallon prices last year, I'd hardly blink at a 12 cent jump right now, while I would appreciate the added benefit of encouraging Californians to invest in greater fuel economy, not to mention the help delivered in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Maldonado also received a huge concession that will directly aid his personal political future -- an agreement that future state elections will incorporate "open primaries" in which the top two vote-getters, from any party, end up in a run-off. As a moderate Republican, Maldonado has a tough time winning Republican primaries for statewide office.
So, to recap: California has a budget. Sure, education is screwed and sound energy policy sacrificed, but Abel Maldonado's political future has never looked brighter. And that's how we roll, in the Golden State.