Friday, July 24, 2009

Legislature Approves Revised Budget

After a two-day marathon, the Legislature approved approximately $22.5 billion in budget solutions.

An analysis of the budget revision is available on the Assembly Budget Committee website. Two items that were part of the Big 5 budget agreement failed to pass: a $1.7 billion two-year take of local road maintenance funds and opening up our coast to offshore drilling for the first time in 40 years.

With this budget revision California will chart a new course of great, but not shared, sacrifice. Fewer teachers will teach our children. Thousands of seniors and disabled Californians will lose the care they need to live in their own homes. And, dreams of a state university education will be dashed for many Californians because it is about to become much more expensive. But, absent this budget revision, financial insolvency is days away. While these cuts are painful, the alternative is worse.

The California dream is the victim of our dysfunctional process. Californians want quality public schools, a safety net for vulnerable residents, and their coastline protected from expanded oil drilling. The tragedy is that these and other California values took a backseat to the interests of an empowered minority who shut the public out from crafting their own budget. No other budget has so clearly shown the need for budget reforms to restore the integrity of our democracy.