SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 18: California State Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) rubs his eyes as he listens to arguments during a session of the California State Senate February 18, 2009 in Sacramento, California. The California legislature has stalled its vote on a State budget proposal after the GOP party ousted its leader, Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno. The stalled budget caused Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue 20,000 pink slips to state workers and threatens hundreds of state funded public works projects. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Politicians never act sooner if there is more to be gained by acting later. Which is why everyone can give up the budget watch for the next couple months.
There won't be a new California budget til after the Nov. 2 election.
Yes, that will mean IOUs, and pain for people who depend on the state for incomes. But many of the programs most cherished by politicians are protected from cuts by the courts. And all of the players in the budget debate have incentives to wait. Among them:
Plus, there's this potential upside. Prop 25, which would eliminate the two-thirds vote requirement for passing budgets, is on the November ballot. Some Democrats think that having a record-long budget crisis would make voters more inclined to vote for the measure, thus giving more leverage to the Democrats in the legislature. So if Democrats wait, the voters may make it easier to pass a budget. (Another benefit: Prop 26, which would impose a new two-thirds supermajority for passing fees, is opposed by Democrats, some of whom think a budget stalemate also would undermine support for that measure.)
The situation reinforces just how dysfunctional the state budget system is: everyone gains through acts of delay and irresponsibility.