Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Without Compromise, the IOUs are Coming

Compromise is the heart of politics. Unfortunately for California, the state may go off the cliff tonight because the governor and Republican legislators are uninterested in the concept. So, Californian may begin issuing IOUs for the second time in its history on July 2.

After saying for months that it’s the Legislature’s job to pass a budget, the governor has suddenly decided that he wants to dictate the terms of any budget agreement. But sweeping policy changes to CalWORKS, Medi-Cal, and state employment deserve a public vetting. The governor had all year to make public any of these proposals in his State of the State address, his address after the special election, or any of his four May Revision budget proposals.

And, contrary to their claims of wanting “sunshine and accountability” during budget negotiations, Republicans in the Legislature have never offered a comprehensive budget alternative for the public to consider. Like the governor, they want to negotiate a backroom deal in secret.

The public deserves better than that. We had a month of public hearings within the Conference Committee process. That was the appropriate time and place for budget proposals to be vetted. The budget belongs to the people of this state. The Conference Committee process was the public’s opportunity to weigh in on it. That is why we took over 30 hours of public comment.

But California’s fiscal crisis is bigger than any single person or political party in Sacramento. All legislators and the governor have taken oaths of office to serve the people of this state. All of us must make sacrifices in order to reach a budget agreement that can take effect immediately.

Absent that, the Democrats took responsibility for the state and sent the governor elements of our own budget plan. SBx3 16 included over $7.9 billion in spending reductions and SBx3 17 included $4.4 billion in accelerated revenues and tax compliance provisions, including some of the governor’s own proposals. The governor just dug in deeper and vetoed them.

And, absent Senate Republican support before midnight tonight for the SB 64 and SB 80, passed with strong bipartisan support by the Assembly last Thursday, we incur $7 billion in lost savings and new costs.

In the meantime, the clock keeps ticking towards IOUs. Those state payments subject to IOUs are listed here.