Sunday, October 10, 2010

California Comedy

The new California budget was released this week, closing the $19 billion budget gap, and it is a real knee slapper. We now know who writes the screenplays for television comedies; it’s California legislators. No wonder the studios have to add prerecorded laugh tracks. Some highlights of the budget closing measures are:

Receive $5.4 billion from the federal government. Has Congress passed any bill saying that it will give $5.4 billion to California? It has not.
In fact, it rejected a bill that would have given $500 million to California. California nonetheless bases its budget on $5.4 billion that has not even been promised to it, let alone allocated. Perhaps Barbara Boxer promised to get the $5.4 billion for us. They do realize that Barbara Boxer is running for reelection, right?

Derive $1.4 billion in increased tax revenue if the economy improves. Really, do I even need to comment on this one? I guess if banks would grant mortgages based on “my income will be huge if sales pick up” then we can balance our budget on what tax revenue will be if the economy improves. I have a hunch, though, that the outcome will be similar.

Delay $1.9 billion payment to schools and colleges until the next fiscal year. Otherwise know as “kick the can down the road” or “make this somebody else’s problem,” and, what the hell, those schools don’t really need the money anyway.

Reduce higher education funding by $212 million, to be offset by increased federal funding. We’re really down to pennies here, as this amounts to about a hundredth of one percent of the budget, but didn’t we already use the “get additional money from the feds” as a method? Here too, has the “higher federal funding” been allocated? I didn’t think so.

This is also contradicted a bit by a statement earlier in the presentation, which said that “higher education funding increases slightly, to about $11.5 billion.” So they are taking credit for increasing it while claiming it as a cut to save money, all at the same time.

Save $820 million by reducing the cost of health care in prisons. Given that the cost of health care is rising everywhere else, reducing it in prisons is going to be a neat trick especially since the state is under a federal mandate to increase the amount of health care provided in state prisons, and to do so by quite a bit. A federal judge found the level of health care in our prison health care so appalling that he threatened to have the federal government take it over. So we are going to be increasing the quality and level of health care in our prisons while reducing the cost.

Why don’t we just sell the damned Brooklyn Bridge?

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