SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 15: A protestor holds a sign during a demonstration outside of the California State building July 15, 2009 in San Francisco, California. As the California budget crisis continues, dozens of protestors against proposed cuts to education and helthcare demonstrated outside of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's San Francisco office. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dear Late Budget,
I am so sorry.
When you were here each year, I used to whine and complain about you all the time. I wrote bad things about you and sent them out on the Internet. I said you were wasteful and a distraction and just a no good-nik. My friends and I decided that I had to get rid of you.
I was wrong.
I realize now that you're gone that I needed you. That I loved you.
I particularly miss you now at your time, summertime.
You'd show up July 1 -- at the beginning of the fiscal year. And you'd linger for weeks.
Lingering was what you did best, as the Democrats and the Republicans, and the legislature and the governor, couldn't agree how to shape you. Most years, you stayed a few weeks, until late July or so.
But lately, you'd been sticking around all summer, even into September, as the legislature took its time figure you out.
Yes, you could be annoying. Yes, your presence was a sign of California's civic dysfunction and failure to compromise.
But, Late Budget, you gave meaning and drama to our summers. And you always brought suspense; how long would you stick around? When would you finally be passed?
You were good for spectacle and fighting and intrigue.
Could the Democrats buy off a few Republican votes? Who was the governor fighting with? You were never more fun than during the Schwarzenegger years, when the sight of Late Summer made the governor crazy. He'd run around the state, visit malls and fairs, and shout crazy insults like "Girlie Men."
I miss you specially because I write about state politics and government for a living. And you were a reliable producer of stories and blog posts during what otherwise would be a dry time.
This year, ever since On-Time Budget made its appearance on June 30 (and you quietly slipped our of the state to the Berkshires), I've been scrambling to find things to write and to say. I'm reading legislation, for goodness sakes, and much of it is meaningless. You, Late Budget, always had meaning.
I'm so desperate that all I have to file on a summer dog day, with the legislature out of town, is a long blog post about your memory. Come back, Late Budget. Or I don't know what I'll do.