"Even as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a spending
bill this week to end the state's record-long budget impasse, officials say a crisis of equal magnitude looms next year because of the weakened economy, uncertainties about
the use of future lottery revenue and political gridlock
among state legislators," report Matthew Yi and Michael Cabanatuan in the Chron.
Don't we get any time to celebrate the legislative and gubernatorial
mastery that crafted this wonderful budget? Just a
little bit? Apparently not.
"California lawmakers and their budget advisers estimate
that the Legislature, which on Friday approved a $104 billion general fund budget that plugged a $17 billion gap 81 days into the current fiscal year, will be looking
at a deficit of at least $1.6 billion nine months from now.
"But that number could easily balloon to $7 billion or more, according to Capitol observers and
experts on the state budget, particularly given uncertainty
over whether voters will approve Schwarzenegger's plan to borrow against future state lottery sales
to generate $5 billion next year and the same amount the year after
that. The issue will probably go to voters in a special
election next year.
"Another big question is the state of the economy. Last
week's meltdown on Wall Street caught the attention of budget
advisers and lawmakers who say the slowing economy,
which already has taken a toll on the state's coffers, may create more havoc before revenue begins
to turn around.
"'All these (projected deficit) numbers will be dwarfed if in fact we are heading
into a serious recession because with what's happening nationally - the credit crunch, people spending less money - projections of state revenues will go into the toilet
,' said John Ellwood
, a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy
at UC Berkeley."
"Frustrated by the longest budget impasse in California
history, Democratic leaders are planning another ballot measure to end the two-thirds vote requirement in the Legislature to pass a state budget," reports Aurelio Rojas in the Bee.
Can we skip the food fight ads this time around?
"Voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, defeated a similar effort in 2004 that would have also lowered the vote threshold to
raise taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent.
"But incoming Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass say this year's budget – now 84 days late – underscores the need to re-visit the issue in 2010, or next year if there's a special election.
"California is one of only three states – Arkansas and Rhode Island are the others – that require a super-majority budget vote and the only state where the governor
also has line-item veto authority."
George Skelton and Bill Lockyer commiserate about the budget deal. "Blame them all for another atrocious, short-sighted, gimmicky budget that set a record for procrastination.
They wreaked havoc all across California among small
business vendors, healthcare centers and nursing homes
that couldn't be paid by the state until a budget was enacted.
"The spending plan 'gives gimmicks a bad name. I'd have to call it banana republic financing,' asserted state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a former attorney general and legislative leader.
"Lockyer complained about 'phony inflated estimates of revenue.' But the Democrat was especially incensed about the
'fiscal folly' of providing "a massive corporate boondoggle" for big business with permanent tax breaks after three
"'I understand why Republicans would do that,' he told me. 'But I don't understand why Democrats would. Past tax cuts have
contributed to the budget deficit. And they want to
add more and have bigger deficits?. . . . If we have
to pass tax cuts in order to enact a budget, there'll be no revenue left.'"
The Bee's Amy Chance talks to professional mediators who Monday-morning quarterback the job done by legislative leaders
in negotiating the budget.
"As California's longest budget stalemate in state history ground
to a close, six professional mediators met with The
Bee's Capitol Bureau last week to offer their thoughts
on building a more functional state budget process.
"Their advice in a nutshell: Improve lawmakers' communication skills, train them and their aides in
mediation techniques, set up a structured negotiation
process long before budget deadlines approach, agree
on common goals, build trust by reaching incremental
agreements – and don't expect perfection."
You've gotta be kidding..
What about singing kumbaya?
Dan Walters looks at the failure of the prison health facilities
bonds and the success of the funding for a new death
row at San Quentin and concludes "If the prisons are a mess, they are more than matched
by the politics of prisons."
The NYT's Jesse McKinley looks into the belief a surge of African-American and Latino voters turning out for Barack Obama
could buoy support for Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriages.
"The Obama/Proposition 8 situation appeals to those opposed to same-sex marriage, who are banking on a high turnout by
blacks and conservative Latinos. 'There’s no question African-American and Latino voters are among our strongest
supporters,' said Frank Schubert, the co-campaign manager for Yes on 8, the leading group behind the measure. 'And to the extent that they are motivated to get to
the polls, whether by this issue or by Barack Obama,
it helps us.'
"To blunt that possibility, gay leaders and Proposition
8 opponents have been sponsoring casual events at restaurants
in traditionally black neighborhoods in Los Angeles,
meeting with black clergy members and recruiting gay
black couples to serve as spokespeople on panels and
at house parties and church events.
"'This is black people talking to black people,' said Ron Buckmire, the board president of the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, a gay rights group in Los
Angeles. 'We’re saying, ‘Gay people are black and black people are gay. And
if you are voting conservative on an antigay ballot
measure, you are hurting the black community.’
"Voters will decide on Nov. 4 whether to pay for the construction and remodeling
of children's hospitals through a new state bond," writes Elizabeth Fernandes in the Chron.
"Proposition 3 would authorize $980 million in bonds, to be repaid from the state's general fund, to allow the hospitals to expand, improve
facilities and purchase medical equipment.
"'This is the pediatric safety net,' said Diana Dooley, president and chief executive of the California Children's Hospital Association. 'These hospitals are investing in the care of children.'
"Prop. 3 is nearly identical to Prop. 61, a $750 million bond measure for children's hospitals approved by voters in 2004 by 58 percent of the vote.
"The hospitals say they need the additional funds because
of soaring construction costs and a squeeze on Medi-Cal reimbursements, leaving them little money to apply
"Critics say the state can't afford the measure when it is already on precarious
economic footing. Payments for Prop. 3 would amount to about $64 million a year for 30 years. The total cost to California would be about
$2 billion over 30 years to cover both the $980 million principal and $933 million in interest, according to analysts."
"Berkeley's infamous tree-sitters have been hit with a rude surprise since they came down to earth: Judges are socking them with thousands of dollars
in fines and legal fees," write Matier and Ross.
"Ironically, much of the money - which could total more than $10,000 per sitter - is going straight to the University of California,
the very institution the tree-sitters were protesting as they tried to save a grove
of trees outside Memorial Stadium.
"'It's really vindictive,' said an attorney for some the sitters, Dennis Cunningham.
'They don't have this kind of money.'
"Maybe, but university lawyer Michael Goldstein isn't making any apologies.
"'We've asked the judge to throw the book at them,' Goldstein said flatly."
Ronald Reagan would have broken their kneecaps to get them out of the trees.
"UC Berkeley estimates it spent more than $800,000 on police and other security measures during the 22 months sitters were up in the trees. The university
spent $40,000 alone on the scaffolding that went up around the final
tree during the last day of the protest this month."
In more Let There Be Light news:
"For teenagers pondering college, parents who will foot
the bill, professors, politicians and others with questions,
the University of California released a blizzard of data
today in a new accountability report posted online," reports James Sweeney in the U-T.
"Fulfilling a signature promise of new UC President
Mark Yudof, the 209-page draft was compiled from largely existing information
scattered throughout the 10-campus system.
"Collecting and organizing all the information in one
location with comparisons to other universities has
been a priority of Yudof's in the three months since he became the university's president.
"'An accountability framework is critical for transparency,
it's critical for performance measurement . . . and it's important for the personal accountability of the
leaders of the institution,' Yudof told UC regents last week. 'It's going to take us time to get it exactly right, but
we're working full speed ahead on this priority.'"
And since we're getting ready for a Jerry Brown comeback, the New
York TImes checks in to see if Linda Ronstadt is still available as arm
"To hear her talk about her girlhood memories — the smell of wool on
the Navajo blanket she would lie on as she begged her
parents to sing,
her father on the guitar and her mother on the banjo
— is almost to
forget about Ms. Ronstadt’s other life. That’s the one with the
platinums and Grammys, the much-publicized romances with George Lucas and Jerry Brown,
the Annie Leibowitz photo of her flung across her bed in
camisole that she now somewhat disdainfully calls the “sprawling
"For Ms. Ronstadt being a rock star was something of
experience, despite being one of her generation’s sexiest brunettes.
She compares the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif.,
mid-’60s through the mid-’70s to the Weimar Republic in Germany, “when
no one had a dowry, thus rendering virginity unimportant.” She
continues: “Were we supposed to be earth mothers hoeing the garden
having babies, or be tough and knock back Southern
Comforts like Janis Joplin? It was a hard thing to figure out.”
And finally, the AP reports, "A man convicted of stealing $20 from a toddler's piggy bank has been sentenced to six years in prison.
"Prosecutors say 31-year-old Ryan Mueller broke into a home in August 2007
and stole money from a 2-year-old girl's piggy bank while she slept.
They say the girl's mother walked into the room and caught Mueller in
State budgeters were said to be intrigued by the story
while looking for solutions to next year's budget.