California's permanent fiscal emergency

Notes from a meltdown, cont. Schwarzenegger's new budget cuts deeper and meaner

By Andrew Leonard
Published January 8, 2010 10:29PM (EST)

The only thing surprising about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's declaration Friday of "yet another fiscal emergency" is the notion that the state ever escaped that status, even after a budget deal full of smoke and mirrors was agreed to last year. Tax revenues have been declining ever since the deal was cut, and everyone in California knew more partisan squabbling and vicious to-the-bone budget cuts was on the way.

But don't worry about new taxes. Although California faces a 19.9 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months, Schwarzenegger's new budget, unveiled today, declares unconditional surrender to the rump GOP hardliners who refuse to envision any kind of compromise that might includes both spending cuts and higher taxes.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled an $82.9 billion state spending plan today that calls for no tax hikes but envisions pay cuts for state workers, reductions in services to California's neediest residents -- and relies on the benevolence of the federal government...

The governor is proposing a three-part deficit-closing solution: $8.5 billion in spending cuts, $4.5 billion in "revenue shifts," some of which were rejected by voters last year, and $6.9 billion in additional money from the federal government.

One proposed cut: "The fastest-growing segment of state spending over the past decade --- prisons -- would be cut by $1.2 billion, most of it through reducing medical costs to prisoners."

California: Three strikes and you're out, and if you get sick in prison, you die. Lovely.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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