Fiddle, Nero, fiddle!

California lawmakers approved a $156.4 billion budget on Sunday, sending the plan that includes funding for a controversial high-speed rail project and preschool education for low-income children to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to be signed.

The state Senate voted 25-11 two hours after the Assembly approved the spending plan, a compromise deal that sets aside money for a so-called rainy day fund in line with Brown’s vision of fiscal restraint.

“This budget is not perfect, but after a very dark time, we are stepping out into the light,” said Senator Mark Leno during floor deliberations.

The vote followed months of political wrangling among Democrats seeking to restore spending on social programs cut during the recession.

The train is not a “social program” in any twist of even the most diseased imagination. It is pure folly (note: I am not opposed to privately funded high speed rail). Jerry Brown occasionally does things that indicate he might be a moderate Democrat, then he goes right back to his magic money choo-choo toy. He’s like a college kid who has a few extra bucks in his pocket for the first time since he got to school and just can’t wait until he gets to blow it.

This state has a few extra cents rattling around in the coin jar at the moment but is still facing crippling unfunded liabilities because of its ridiculous public employee guaranteed benefits. Let someone else pay for Moonbeam’s basement toys.