California recently closed its budget, but in January the state will need to begin working on its next one.According to the LA Times, a $19 billion hole is already projected, and here’s the problem: The easy budget cuts and the easy tax hikes are already in the books.
The are other problems, too. The new governor, whoever that is, will be reluctant to waste political capital (Schwarzenegger had the benefit of being a lame duck) and fresh legislators will once again have to learn how the whole process works (California has term limits, meaning nobody ever sticks around long enough to know how it works).
Also, the public has unrealistic expectations:
In a survey of 1,000 Californians conducted in June by the Pew centre on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California, half of respondents believed state spending could be cut 20% or more with no impact on services. The report points out that the state would have to eliminate the equivalent of its entire prison system, all welfare programs and all transportation spending to save that much.
The authors went to Mike Genest, Schwarzenegger’s former budget director, for some perspective.
“Reality hasn’t caught up with the voting public,” Genest told them. “Politicians have made it sound like there are other alternatives, like we can simply get rid of fraud, waste and abuse and [have] a spending freeze and … have the same kind of government we’ve always had. … That’s just not true.”
Anyway, assuming a big GOP sweep in November in DC, there won’t be much help coming from the Feds. Barring another tax-revenue-creating bubble, this should be quite a horror show.
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