Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call for a special legislative session to deal with a portion of the budget deficit will probably produce nothing more than rhetoric. Finding six billion dollars to cut out of the budget won’t be easy given that the legislature passed the unbalanced budget 100 days late packed with gimmicks that quickly fell apart.
Will this brand new legislature suddenly find solutions that evaded the previous legislature — over the holiday season no less?
Certainly, the majority Democrats would like to smooth the way for Governor-elect Jerry Brown and at least put this current year’s budget in balance before the new governor has to challenge the monstrous debt he inherits. But, that almost certainly means cutting to the bone programs that the Democrats do not want to cut and, in fact, found ways to fund after Governor Schwarzenegger chopped spending with his line item veto.
California’s on-going budget crisis is only going to be solved in the long term with structural changes. Reworking the tax system, reducing the obligations of government, and reenergizing the business community with business friendly policies is the roadmap out of the California deficit wilderness.
While it is understandable that the new governor, the retiring governor and the new legislature would like to clear the slate of the current budget mistakes, recent history of the record budget delay shows that it will take more than calling the legislature into special session.
Perhaps during this transition period between administrations, the governors both old and new can invite proposals for restructuring, reworking, reducing, and reenergizing government and give the new administration and legislature a head start on finally fixing the budget problem.