Looks like we’re getting a budget like we’ve had in the past. One put together containing more hopes and wishes than expressed by a class full of kindergarteners at Christmas. But it is actually a logical budget. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say good. I didn’t say smart. But it is understandable how we got here.

This is an election year. The legislators were able to create a budget that didn’t raise taxes and place a wet blanket on the economy; nor did they eliminate welfare programs like CalWorks that keep people afloat in difficult times.

What they did was make a budget that hopes for a brighter future and generosity from Washington that they know will not come. Legislators hope the economy will recover and the money will suddenly appear. There is a danger in this strategy, of course. How many years in a row can this be done before the whole system falls apart?

The legislators are willing to gamble that the bright dawn is approaching.

Since it is an election year, the partisans on each side of the divide hope the election results will put them in better position to solve California’s budget the way they believe the budget should be solved.

Democrats are looking for a strong majority with a Democratic governor and a majority vote budget in which they can get more revenue to balance the budget.

Republicans are hoping for a Republican governor and a mandate from the voters to keep a lid on spending and taxes so they can cut and restructure government to a proper size.

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge one clear positive in the budget and tip our hat to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for standing firm on pension reform. The second tier pension reform for new workers, and rolling back the pension rules to what were in place before the legislature and Governor Davis juiced the pension payoffs in 1999, was a big step forward.

Legislators will complain about the shape and contents of this budget, but given the looming election, expect it to pass.

Then we will start the process all over next year … and wait for the sun to come up.