Please pardon me for straying from my usual local subject matter. I try to stick to only writing about Oakland on this blog – after all, that’s what I know best. Statewide and national issues are covered pretty thoroughly elsewhere, and even if I did want to write about them, I doubt I’d have much of anything unique to contribute.
But last night, while I was waiting to pick up some take-out, I ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Neither of them are news junkies, but they tend to be pretty in touch with what’s going on, certainly enough to have intelligent conversations about politics. So you can imagine my shock when I brought up my concern and frustration about the State, and they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about!
So just in case any of my readers aren’t aware, the State of California is in total crisis. An ultra brief summary of the situation: For months now, the State Legislature has been unable to pass a budget that will address California’s $42 billion deficit. There is absolutely no way to close a $42 billion hole that won’t be extremely painful for pretty much everyone. The Legislature’s Republican’s don’t seem to understand the concept of compromise, and are basically refusing to support any budget that includes measures to increase revenue. With a two-thirds vote required for passage, settling the issue without at least some Republican support is impossible.
At this point, the State is basically out of money. Most infrastructure projects have been cancelled, and without a resolution to the current crisis, the rest are going to have to stop soon. The State has already halted its payments to counties for welfare and other social services. Without an agreement on the budget in the Legislature, these payments cannot resume.
The Governor and the State’s Legislative leaders thought they had worked out a compromise last week. The plan to cut $15.8 billion, raise $14.3 billion with new taxes, and borrow $10.9 billion The Legislature tried, and fail on Saturday, then again on Sunday, to pass a budget. The stumbling block? A single Republican vote in the Senate. The Senate is convening again today, but I have to admit, I’m not feeling hopeful.
Anyway, if you weren’t seriously concerned about this problem already, hopefully you are now. I’ve listed some links below to help readers get caught up on the situation.
- Talks fail to end California budget impasse
- California lawmakers fail to pass budget deal
- One vote shy, state budget still in limbo
- On brink of financial collapse, state lawmakers struggle with budget passage
- California budget critics turn up pressure on lawmakers
- Dan Walters: No end in sight on budget
- California’s GOP lawmakers should do the budget math
- Capital Notes – frequent updates on budget situation from KQED’s California Report Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers. Myers also provides even more frequent micro updates on his Twitter
- Calitics – multiple updates and commentary daily