As Always, State Budget Battle is a Mess

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010  |  Updated 4:17 PM PDT
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The budget battle is heating up in Sacramento, with plenty of frustration, inaction, and complaining. In other words, just another year in California.

The East Bay Express called it a "pathetic spectacle."

Leaders don't even seem to be trying to resolve the $19 billion deficit, with a budget two months overdue. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have a majority to push their initiatives through, and the result has been deadlock. Democrats want to increase taxes, Republicans want to cut services. Same old same old.

Lawmakers have scheduled their first floor vote today. So far, there's been plenty of debate, and the assembly has rejected the Republican plan.

During a speech in San Francisco, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said neither side would get the two-thirds vote needed to pass  its version of the budget. He dismissed Tuesday's votes as "kabuki" theater.

Schwarzenegger blamed legislators for the delays, saying he always  submits his budgets on time.

"They always start negotiating too late," he said.

This year could set a record for the longest period without a budget. That record was set back in 2008, when the budget wasn't settled until late September. Lawmakers are set to go on vacation for a month starting tomorrow.

For unknown reasons, lawmakers simply haven't been meeting like they used to. The top five legislators would normally be huddled together at this point, working hard on a compromise. But this year, they've only had one meeting, which lasted less than an hour. The state may have to issue IOUs in a few days, and the governor has proposed cutting welfare-to-work programs and child care, leaving many vulnerable citizens without a safety net.

Of course, there's always one more option left: everyone could just move to Oregon.

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