One of the inherent problems with California’s budget is that time and again lawmakers have managed to put off difficult decisions and pending “disasters” through a series of band-aid budgets, shell games and ‘kick the can down the road’ solutions. Now the state faces a $24 billion deficit, and
“Need an extra $2.3 billion? Easy — just make people pay more of next year’s taxes this year, by increasing paycheck withholdings and estimated tax payments.
“How about selling a chunk of a state insurance fund? That’s good for a cool $1 billion on paper, even if experts say it’s highly uncertain the sale would fetch that much, if it can be executed at all.
“Expenses still too high? Here’s a really creative one: Push back state employees’ monthly paychecks in June 2010 by a single day — from June 30 to July 1 — and thus onto the next fiscal year’s books. Just like that, $1.2 billion “saved.”
Those are just some of the maneuvers — or, to use a less charitable term, gimmicks — that the governor and lawmakers have suggested to help fill a $24 billion shortfall through June 2010. The proposals add up to about $10 billion, depending on what one defines as a gimmick.
Yet as Reason Online points out, finding places to cut costs without reducing the state to post-apocalyptic squalor is not the difficult task some lawmakers would make out to be. As explained in California’s political newspaper Capital Weekly a few weeks prior: