The Hard Truth

Interesting AP item concerning California’s budget woes:

The incoming Schwarzenegger administration is considering borrowing up to $20 billion to wipe out a mounting deficit amid growing costs from fighting the wildfires, key advisers said Monday.

A spokeswoman for Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger said it was premature to comment on the proposal, but a number of officials in the Capitol said the idea is gaining momentum.


$20 billion is, as they say, real money — and while Sacramento will probably find enough bond buyers, they’ll also probably have to offer a premium return. The story also details talk in the Schwarzenegger camp about “eliminating waste and duplication,” but that’s old political code for “we don’t know what to cut.”

The story concludes:

Democratic leaders said they would withhold comment until a formal plan is announced. Democratic Senate Pro Tem John Burton, however, warned that the cost of borrowing could be tremendous to the state.

“I don’t want to mortgage the future,” Burton said.

The hard truth is, California’s future is already mortgaged.

With silly voter initiatives mandating all sorts of silly spending, a hostile business climate, Gray Davis’s legacy of expensive energy bonds, and an Assembly legally unable to cut much spending, the Golden State is in some serious trouble.


A new governor can do some things to get business to move back, but not much without help from the Democratic Assembly. The other three problems are all almost completely intractable. At least without the kind of painful spending decisions California voters seem especially immune to making.

And Burton is one of the many people who helped put the state in hock.


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