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California Reacts to the Budget Deal

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The state is shaken by the new, almost-approved budget deal. It appears to have something in it for everyone to hate.

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A survey of reactions to various aspects of the deal and the spin:

*WitnessLA says fears of the early release of nonviolent prisoners being pushed by Mayor Villaraigosa and the police union are overblown.

*Matt Welch at Reason magazine (where I work as a senior editor) mocks those who blame the Republican minority for the problem, and points out that merely returning state spending to 2005 levels would have been sufficient to eliminate the deficit.

*PublicCEO calls on the state legislature to reject the plan in the name of cities and counties.

*LAist weighs in on the political dilemma Paul Krikorian faces: as sitting assembly member should he help the state bring its budget deal to bed at the cost of the Angelenos he is vying to represent on the City Council?

*The right-leaning California Majority Report assesses winners and losers, marking teachers and employees unions, banks and especially lawyers as winners; Schwarzenegger, environmentalists, most state employees, and the California League of Cities as losers.

*The League of California Cities complains to the Daily News that:


"This budget relies on gimmicks - gimmicks that will have a dramatic and long-lasting impact on our state and local communities," said Judy Mitchell, the mayor of Rolling Hills Estates and president of the League of California Cities.

"It is a Ponzi scheme that passes off responsibility to future governors, legislators and to our taxpayers," she said....

*In summation, George Skelton at the L.A. Times sums up all that was wrong--and why it was probably the best we could have expected. It also explains why Sacramento will find itself having to make painful and controversial choices again, and soon:

Liberal interests are crying about painful spending cuts and no new taxes, not even on big oil or smelly tobacco. Republican legislators are fretting over the potential early release from prison of nonviolent inmates. Reformers carp about gimmicky accounting......

The negotiated solution to the state's projected $26-billion budget deficit -- roughly $15 billion in spending cuts, and the rest mostly in raids on local government, problematic revenue and accounting tricks -- was preordained by the May 19 special election.....

After that, any new tax increase was politically impossible. To think otherwise was fantasy, especially since taxes already had been hiked by a hefty $12.5 billion in February. "Ninety percent" of the budget-balancing package that the Legislature will finally vote on today or Friday, [Democratic assembly speaker Karen] Bass asserts, could have been passed before July 1. The state then could have avoided embarrassing IOUs, she says, while legislators and the governor continued to negotiate more cuts.

Schwarzenegger didn't trust Democrats to agree to previously unthinkable whacks in education and the poor people's safety net unless the state faced imminent insolvency. He wanted to fix the "crazy deficit spending" once and for all.

This budget hardly does that. It "kicks the can down the alley," which the governor for weeks had vowed he wouldn't do. "What are the odds we're going to be back at this in the fall?" Bass asks, answering her own question. "Pretty high." The economy shows little sign of rebounding.

Past City of Angles blogging on the state's fiscal crisis and the May special election.

(Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

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