California, over a week late on passing a balanced budget, seems to be stuck in the mud.
Facing down a $26 billion deficit and so far lacking the few but necessary Republican votes to raise revenues, activity in the State legislature has settled into a lull.
“Unfortunately I don’t have any new news to report.” said Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who represents Santa Clarita. “This week it was frustrating because the speaker of the Assembly chose not to participate in any big five negotiations, and that just slows the process down and it doesn’t do anyone any good.”
A Democrat-backed plan which included a cigarette tax and vehicle license fee hike was passed along party lines last week, although it was promptly vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor has stated publicly that he believes Californians made their point during May’s overwhelming special election defeat, where several new taxes were shot down.
That leaves few options in the race for a budget cure.
Assemblyman Smyth, who also serves as Assembly Republican Caucus Chairman, says that cuts are a must.
“Whether we like it or not, we have a budget hole of $26 billion dollars,” he said. “The Democrat majority is slowly coming around to the fact that we have to make some real tough choices.”
Our Assemblyman says that while specific amounts have yet to be negotiated, no area will be immune.
“At this point every department is going to see some degree of reduction,” Smyth said.
The clock is ticking.
As the state continues to issue IOUs, banks are now indicating that they will stop accepting them. Furthermore, payments to education, like the $4 billion Principal Apportionment, have been delayed twenty days.
“The delay of this school funding payment is a consequence of California’s economic crisis and our very serious cash shortage. Public education continues to bear a disproportionate share of the cuts needed to solve our state budget shortfall. And delays in funding as a result of the state’s cash flow problems transfer those problems to our local schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.
Smyth hopes that next week the state legislature will start talking again, and start negotiating towards a solution.