Recession? Check. Record state budget deficit? Check. More spending on favored special interests? Unchecked!

Like water rising to its own level, legislative Democrats find a way to spend money on new programs. Even as the budget deficit tops $15 billion, the Legislature passed SB 1 in the first special session, which appropriates $8 million a year in utility ratepayer charges to provide career education subsidies for “clean technology and renewable energy job training” programs. The money would be used by schools to set up Partnership Academies to train prospective workers in, among other occupations, energy audits, retrofitting and weatherization activities, and installing energy-efficient household appliances, windows, doors, insulation, lighting and water and energy conservation technologies.

One of the main purposes of the legislation is “to curtail high school dropout and joblessness rates among (California’s) young people.” But how would we know? There’s no requirement for accountability for any of the money allocated to the Partnership Academies. We’ll never learn if any of the activities paid for by utility ratepayers leads to a single student not dropping out of school or getting a job in a clean or green technology.

But it’s only ratepayer money, right? Yes, and thank goodness not many of us are utility ratepayers. But in fact the fund from which this money flows will go out of business in a year, leaving a brand-new constituency hungry to either re-up the utility tax or search for relief in the state General Fund.

It’s hard to imagine how we ever got into the fix we’re in.