Frightening fiscal future for state of California
Signing a budget does not mean the whole mess goes away. In California’s case, the budget seems like a nightmare the residents cannot wake up from.
Today Gov. Gray Davis goes before the Legislature in a special session to address an additional $10.2 billion shortfall that was not anticipated when the budget was being tackled throughout the summer and earlier this fall.
It will be hard for any Californian to not be affected when the purse strings start to be tightened. This latest figure brings the total shortfall for this fiscal year to $30 billion. That is 30 plus nine zeros.
As mind boggling as the numbers may seem, the reality is clear. Locally, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Lake Tahoe Community College could be hit.
Even though it is ludicrous to think that the state officials would contemplate cuts mid-school year, that is just what they are talking about. This undoubtedly would create unimaginable chaos for educators that could be felt in the classroom.
The unified is already scrambling to balance its books; draining its coffers further could send things into a tailspin.
Obviously the money has to come from some place. It does not seem wise to balance the books on the backs of our children, who in turn are our future.
Not a week goes by without hearing about the pork barrel spending at the state and federal levels. Let’s revisit some of those expenditures and trim the fat before we gnaw at the bone.
Yes, it may be a bare bones budget. The frills of the past decade are gone. It is time to live within our means. Individually, we must do this day in and day out. Now it is time lawmakers hold the agencies they fund accountable. It is also time the lawmakers look at what they are funding and figure out if they are really worthy of our tax dollars.
There is plenty of blame to be placed as to why California finds itself in this predicament. Perhaps we should start with the analysts and forecasters. They have failed miserably. It is time they work without the rose colored glasses.
No one has a crystal ball to predict exactly what is going to happen with the economy — to know the dot-com bust was coming, that terrorists would chip away at consumer confidence, that the stock market would ricochet like a well-hit racquet ball. But, honestly, these people are paid extremely good money to analyze the indicators that the average person is unable to digest.
Something must have come up on their radar screen that said all was not well with California’s financial health. Where are they today? We can only hope they are applying for jobs with Arthur Andersen.
The citizens of California deserve better. We pay our taxes. We expect basic services. The thought that the California Highway Patrol could be hurt, that people in South Lake Tahoe will not get the medical services they need or that our forests are threatened with cuts to the Department of Forestry and Fish and Game is unconscionable.
Our future is the hands of the governor and the legislators. We can only hope they do right by the taxpayers, voters and other citizens of California.
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Show me your budget, and I’ll show you your values.