July 1 has come and gone and it doesn't look like California will have a budget anytime soon. According to the state's constitution the budget should have been adopted by June 15. Big deal. That deadline has only been met once in the past 20 years so why should anyone be surprised at it's absence?
Neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to budge on what they believe is the solution. The governor wants to continue slashing social service programs including Medi-Cal and CalWorks, the states welfare program. He's also banking on an $1.8 billion shot in the arm from the federal government. Hard to count on those Benjamin's when that funding program has reached an impasse in Congress.
Last week Schwarzenegger ordered the pay of most state workers reduced to $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage. That money would be paid back to the employees once a budget is passed. An appeals court affirmed his right to order the reduction in pay, but how long will those employees have to wait?
Californians will have a chance to change things when they go to the polls this November. Proposition 25 is known as the "Passing the Budget on Time Act". If Prop 25 passes, no longer will a two thirds majority be required to pass a budget in the legislature. A simple majority vote will get it done. No more partisan politics holding the state budget hostage.
So what if they still can't get a budget passed on time? Under Prop 25 all members of the Legislature will permanently forfeit any reimbursement for salary and expenses for every day until the day the Legislature passes a budget bill. Simply put, it would hit politicians in their wallets.
Something needs to be done or California faces the possibility of another credit rating downgrade from Wall Street. That would move interest rates higher on loans the state clearly needs. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer warns it could cost California billions. Billions more than the $19.1 billion worth of debt already sitting on the books
With only one budget coming in on time in the past 20 years and billions worth of debt piling up, Californians need to take a long hard look at 25.