August 16, 2007

The Summer 2007 California budget fiasco

Bush is the worst thing to have happened to the republican party in 50 years. He cant control spending (what Republicans used to be known for), he has this little "war on terror" thing going in Iraq (and elsewhere) which has cost a few dollars and lives and then there are the scandals (too many to name) that go along with being the party in control of congress and the white house for years Then there is the Stem Cell ideology (and related far right propaganda) that turns off main stream Republicans. But at the state and local level we need fiscal conservatives, regardless of what you label them (Dems or Republicans, or Independents). Unfortunately when all is done in Nov. 08 the Dems will control the Whitehouse and the Congress, the tab will come due on Iraq, healthcare, pensions etc. and the Dems will kill anyone making more than 60k a year with taxes. Just remember one thing. The "Republicans" in the Ca legislature are the only ones holding their finger in the dyke holding back a flood of spending. Dont confuse them with "Bush's party". Read more on the budget fiasco (and "driveby media" lies) here

GOP holdouts are on our side

By: North County Times Opinion staff

Our view: Republican senators block budget for state's fiscal future, traffic relief

Despite what you may have heard, Republican state Senators aren't blocking the door to a budget deal out of petulance or to score petty political points. Nor are they needlessly and recklessly jeopardizing the fortunes, finances and fates of all those relying on reimbursement from the state. Nor, for that matter, are 13 GOP senators holding up a long-overdue budget compromise so they can gut California's environmental laws.

The baker's dozen holdouts -- including the local state senators, Mark Wyland, R-Carlsbad, and Dennis Hollingsworth, R-El Cajon, who visited our editorial board Wednesday
audio (listen here) -- are taking a principled, critical stand on behalf of a balanced budget and traffic relief North County desperately needs.

In fact, these recalcitrant Republicans may not be going far enough: The "balanced" budget they are holding out for won't be balanced by any standard acceptable anywhere outside of Sacramento, not without factoring in the massive unfunded liabilities hovering over California's fiscal future like a sword of Damocles.

For too long, enough Republican legislators have acquiesced to the Democrats and Gov. Schwarzenegger's bloated budget demands. This year, finally, every senate Republican save one has drawn a line in the sand against deficits that our state can no longer afford even to slough off on our grandchildren.

A quirk of our state constitution enables a minority party to block the budget, requiring a two-thirds vote for approval. Although Democrats enjoy a majority in both houses, they can't pass next year's budget without the votes of eight Republican Assembly members and two Republican senators.

Holding fast to a demand that $700 million be cut from the budget, Ackerman's 13 -- the holdout senate Republicans led by Minority Leader Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin -- have succeeded in delaying a budget deal long past the July 1 deadline, and long after enough Assembly Republicans approved that chamber's budget deal for it to pass on July 20.

Ackerman's 13 have been accused of not taking "yes" for an answer, especially after Schwarzenegger vowed to use his blue-pencil power to trim $700 million from the Assembly-approved budget and balance next year's operating budget.

They may need to swallow hard and approve a budget under these less-than-ideal conditions. While the coming storm of unfunded health care and pension liabilities owed to state employees darkens California's fiscal horizons, we'd settle this year for a budget that at least begins to regain its balance.

But the senate GOP holdouts have also been accused of tying up the budget with ancillary issues, such as their demand that the state's still-fuzzy greenhouse-gas goals not delay the distribution of transportation funds. But the holdouts are right here, too: This isn't a trivial matter, and the billions of dollars we approved in bonds last November are part of this year's budget process.

Republicans argue that Attorney General Jerry Brown is threatening a speedy disbursement of transportation funding by insisting that California's counties account for greenhouse-gas emissions in their planning processes. Brown wants to use the California Environmental Quality Act to enforce last year's ambitious Assembly Bill 32, the "greenhouse gas bill" that aims to reduce such emissions 25 percent by 2020.

We support that goal, but we question Brown's strategy, and we're not alone. Even the head of the California Air Resources Board, the agency that is clearly mandated to implement the greenhouse gas law, has fretted that Brown's meddling could actually result in lax regulations.

Republicans are right to warn that Brown's grab for headlines and power will lead to lawsuits that delay long-overdue transportation projects. Those greenhouse-gas goals won't even be spelled out until 2012, far too long to wait for traffic relief. It's as if Brown wants to continue the crusade that he started as governor against the roads and highway improvements our growing state needs now more than ever.

Californians, especially North County commuters, must oppose this ill-considered effort, which would also hurt the environment Brown purports to defend. After all, traffic-caused smog is one of our greatest threats to human and environmental health.

Democrats could have approved stop-gap funding to pay state bills during the budget impasse. Instead, they went on a three-week vacation. When they return to their jobs, we hope they return to Republican lawmakers who continue to represent our interests, as unpopular and underappreciated as their stand may be.

Useful links:

Information about California's unfunded liabilities

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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