The Legislature debates the state budget today, appropriate since today is the budget deadline. A handful of determined Senate Republicans have offered a path to an election on tax extensions, contingent on Democrats agreeing to changes in laws that cramp business investment and hinder fiscal solvency.

Some may question the relevance of the business climate changes to the state’s fiscal health. I offer this: while Californian workers and even government employees have suffered under the chill of the recession, state regulatory agencies have been on a hiring binge.

Paid for mostly by special taxes and fees, regulatory agencies have increased staffing over the past three years by more than 13 percent. The regular workforce in California has suffered a four percent job loss. The rest of the California executive branch has stayed even, while public four-year universities have lost one percent of their workforce.

Even the state’s darkest recession has not stopped – or even slowed – the advance of the regulatory state. Indeed, in many ways it flies under the radar as the state’s budget crisis takes the flak. Regulatory staffing increases, accountability decreases, rules and fees proliferate, and job creators say … why bother with California?

Follow Loren on Twitter: @KayeLoren