With new Republican Senate leadership installed overnight, no one can be certain which way the budget negotiations will go.

Under Dennis Hollingsworth’s new leadership, the Senate Republicans may search for short-term fixes to the budget rather than the 18-month fix included in the current package. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said he is not prepared to renegotiate. And, some Senate Republicans who did not vote for the leadership change may still come around to vote for the budget package on the table. But, even if the current package of cuts and tax increases becomes law, it would only be a temporary fix to a long-term problem.

One principal point that all involved in the budget question should remember is that resolving the budget crisis is only the first step in a long journey to restructure California’s government. Even in the current budget package, taxes and many cuts are temporary. That means that over the course of five years, at most, a government plan for the 21st century must be put in place. Those hoping that the interim will allow the economy to bounce back so we can return to business as usual are making a big mistake.

Business as usual means returning to a governing plan of the past century. Within this current budget crisis is the opportunity, and even the necessity, to lay the foundation for a 21st century government. Such a government must be run more efficiently and effectively using all the advantages that modern technology provides.

One of the keys to restructuring California’s economic system is creating a more business friendly state. The entrepreneurial spirit in California must be allowed to flourish, unencumbered by excessive regulations. As economic activity is unleashed, government will benefit from economic growth.

The current budget battle deals with facing a crisis of the moment. There is a nod to long-term changes in the package with provisions for a spending limit and a rainy day fund. That is an important start. But more must be done to overhaul the way government works.

So while Senator Hollingsworth must face the immediate concern of the unresolved budget crisis, he must also grab the opportunity and set the course for a larger and more comprehensive reform.