If anyone thinks Sacramento solved the state's fiscal crisis with its recent budget agreement, they might want to consider the following.
To shave $1 billion off the $26.3 billion budget shortfall, the Legislature moved the payday for state employees from the last day of the current fiscal year to the first day of the next. Shazam! Now that's a savings.
The Legislature also participated in what many believe is wishful thinking, estimating it could get $1 billion by selling off assets of the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Many, like Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who spoke in Santa Rosa last week, think the $1 billion figure is highly dubious and question the prudence of the whole idea of a sale.
Mr. Huffman, speaking to about 200 business and community leaders at the monthly meeting of the Sonoma County Alliance, said the state, which experienced a stunning 34 percent decline in revenue in the first six months of 2009, likely will be facing more fiscal crises in a matter of months.
What he called a "lousy budget deal" was necessary to save the state from complete financial meltdown. But the fundamental issues remain.
Mr. Huffman laid out some solutions, such as eliminating the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget, returning more funding control to local governments, ending term limits that recreate a revolving door mentality in Sacramento, going to a two-year budget cycle, reforming the initiative process and possibly a constitutional convention to address all of the above and more. He could have added reining in public-sector unions that are already lining up to challenge the budget deal, but that's another matter.
What seems to be missing from all of this, however, is any concerted, organized effort by Sacramento to spur the state's seriously ailing economy. Between high taxes and regulation, California is increasingly seen as hostile to business.
And if there is no business, there are no taxes to be had, period.
Brad Bollinger is the Business Journal editor in chief. He can be reached at 707-521-4251, email@example.com or online at northbaybusinessjournal.com.