After a stalemate of record-setting duration, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the states $145-billion budget on Tuesday. Eighty-five days late and $510 million short, the budgets passing is anything but a reason to rejoice.
For months, state programs that provide care to the very young and very old, distribute funds to college students and provide other vital state services have practically vanished.
Newspapers across the country have reported that there is a high chance that next years budget negotiations will take as long or longer than this years.
Perhaps the time has come for state lawmakers to begin considering the option of raising taxes as a means to alleviate Californias financial deficit.
If conditions in the legislature are such that progressive and effective laws cannot be passed in a timely manner and Tuesdays budget approval is most certainly not either of these lay the burden on the everyman.
California legislators: Raise taxes on sales and raise taxes on sins. Do whatever it takes to ensure that we are free of this financial turmoil as quickly as possible.
The situation is simple, the solution not so much. If we want to continue our current level of spending without making substantial cuts to valuable state programs or borrowing against future revenue, we may have no choice but to raise taxes. If the governor is not willing to even consider the possibility of doing so, we may have a huge problem on our hands.
Cuts to services for students of any age and provisions for the sick, elderly or very young should never be considered. Our states economy has been built on the shoulders of its public education system, and a compromise in the classroom today could mean a catastrophe on tomorrows bottom line.
Realistically, it is utterly unacceptable for any of the states lawmakers, especially Schwarzenegger, to consider any sort of financial cuts to the states public higher education system. Our states economic future is directly linked to the availability of a dedicated and educated workforce comprised of professionals who can afford to work for the state. Even still, education regularly lands on the chopping block, and the governors ax keeps swinging.
Truth be told, very few of Schwarzeneggers recent actions regarding the states budget negotiations have made sense.
Before approving the budget, the governor tacked on an additional $1.7-billion cushion, which should do very little to protect against the expansion of our already $15-billion deficit that has accrued since the start of this fiscal year on July 1.
As further evidence of the governors disregard for or ignorance of the value of higher education to the states economy, Schwarzenegger axed $5.4 million worth of programs focused on labor studies at UC Berkeley and UCLA.
Republican officials have long suggested that the labor studies programs at the two University of California campuses are sympathetic to union agendas, but even in the interest of improving the long-term health of our economy, the governor could not step out of the Grand Old Partys shadow.
The relevance of such academic fields in aiding the states economy is apparently not as obvious to the governor as it seems to others. Schwarzenegger also cut an $8-million program aimed at reducing the use of methamphetamines statewide.
Good thinking, chief.