On June 2nd, Governor Schwarzenegger addressed a special session of the state legislature, beginning his speech with the stark admonition that California's day of reckoning is here. The state budget, which has been in and out of crises for years, is facing its biggest ever deficit, and action must be taken within weeks, not months.
We talked with Bob Stern - President of the west Los Angeles based think-tank, Center for Governmental Studie, about what he sees as the greatest dangers facing California, and what the state must do to get out of this economic mess. It's a complex situation. Our state economy has been hammered since the dot-com bust of a few years ago, and California, unlike almost all other states, requires a two-thirds vote in order to approve any budget or raise any taxes. The likelihood of getting two-thirds of Californians or their legislators to agree on taxes is almost nil. The result? Stalemate. And Stern addresses the central question of the day: Will Californians accept the inevitable? That to protect the most basic state programs - education, health care, prisons - taxes and fees must be raised, and very soon.