Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Solving Budget Crisis Is No Day at the Beach

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Summertime and the living is easy. The state’s in the dumper and the deficit’s high.

So if you’re a California legislator, do you roll up your sleeves and get to work on a budget solution?

No.

Instead, you pack up your bags and go on vacation.

Nothing says “you deserve a break today” like a $20 billion deficit, right?

This week, the fiscal year will begin, and once again there will be no budget, and no solution for our deficit. And the legislature is planning to work on all those problems when they get back from their summer vacation.

So where should our representatives go?

Maybe a visit to one of our many beautiful state parks. When they get to some, like Mt. Diablo or Fort Tejon, they’ll be greeted with reduced hours and fewer services, all evidence of budget cuts.

What would a summer vacation be without a beach trip? Unless you go to some beaches like Torrey Pines State Beach, where budget issues mean fewer restrooms and fewer trash pickups.

How about getting out of the Golden State, maybe do a trip down to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast? It used to be a place where Jimmy Buffet's musical Margaritaville tourists would be “covered in oil.” Now, it's not only the tourists covered in oil, but the very beaches on which those tourists are sunning themselves.

In fairness, most of the legislators could stay in Sacramento, but with the budget not even out of committee they’d just be accused of hanging around collecting their $142 a day per diem without actually doing much work. Of course, they could volunteer to stay and waive their per diems as they work on the budget, but as Claremont McKenna political science professor Jack Pitney told the Sacramento Bee, “the chances of that happening are roughly equal to William Shatner winning the Oscar for Best Actor.”

That seems mean spirited -- to William Shatner.

So they’ll get to do what many Californians won't be able to afford to do: take a nice vacation. And that just looks bad. Something about a fiddle and some flames approaching Rome.

And the biggest problem is that no Assemblyman or Senator seems ambitious, impatient, or just angry enough to get in there and fix the state’s troubled budget.

So, Gulf Coasters, if you see a California legislator on your oily beaches, don’t get too excited. Don’t think they’re there to help cleanup your mess. They’re not exactly moving very quickly to clean up ours.

Related Topics budget, deficit, cash, jobs
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