] The California budget mess is rapidly turning into a full-blown crisis, thanks to being held hostage by some of the legislature's minority Republic
February 17, 2009
]

The California budget mess is rapidly turning into a full-blown crisis, thanks to being held hostage by some of the legislature's minority Republicans:

LOS ANGELES — The state of California — its deficits ballooning, its lawmakers intransigent and its governor apparently bereft of allies or influence — appears headed off the fiscal rails.

Since the fall, when lawmakers began trying to attack the gaps in the $143 billion budget that their earlier plan had not addressed, the state has fallen into deeper financial straits, with more bad news coming daily from Sacramento. The state, nearly out of cash, has laid off scores of workers and put hundreds more on unpaid furloughs. It has stopped paying counties and issuing income tax refunds and halted thousands of infrastructure projects.

Twenty-thousand layoff notices will go out on Tuesday morning, Matt David, the communications director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Monday night. “In the absence of a budget we need to realize this savings and the process takes six months,” Mr. David said.

And what seems to be the problem? This may sound familiar:

Democrats, who had already given into Republicans’ long-held dreams of large tax cuts for small businesses and for some of the entertainment industry and a proposed $10,000 tax break for first-time home buyers, balked at Mr. Maldonado’s request that the Legislature tuck a bill into the package that would allow voters to cross party lines in primaries.

“I think with an open primary, we would have good government that would do the people’s work,” Mr. Maldonado said.

The Party of No, faced with fiscal disaster, invariably holds out for political advantage. Faced with Solomon's decision, they will always insist on cutting the baby in half.

Paul Krugman warns:

Everyone should be paying attention to the political/fiscal catastrophe now unfolding in California. Years of neglect, followed by economic disaster — and with all reasonable responses blocked by a fanatical, irrational minority.

This could be America next.

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