California Senate Passes Budget

The Senate had been one GOP vote short until Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County), changed his mind to support the budget plan, but only after Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders agreed to his demands.

"I know there will be dire political ramifications for me, but I know the ramifications for the people of California would be more dire (without this budget)," said Maldonado. "This budget is about shared pain and shared sacrifices."

Glad you finally figured that one out, Maldonado - everyone else came to that conclusion, oh, about 4 days ago - BEFORE the deadline. Thanks for your sacrifice.

What's even crazier, though, is that I agree with ONE of Maldonado's demands:

Maldonado's demands included the removal of a proposed 12 cents a gallon gasoline tax, suspending hikes in pay and per diems for lawmakers when the state is facing budget deficits, and a ballot measure in June 2010 that asks voters whether they want open primaries.

A 12 cent/gallon gasoline tax? Now? Right - because that doesn't hit the families that need the most help or anything. Historically, particularly in California (except for the Bay Area), the people in the most dire circumstances are the people who have to drive the farthest. That's because they can't afford to live in the cities, so they live farther out and have to cross longer distances to find work. So increasing the gas tax almost immediately hits the people who are already struggling the most. I can't believe the democrats supported that one. I mean - 2 or 3 cents maybe, but 12 cents?!?

But Maldonado's other demands? NOT suspending hikes in pay during budget deficits? If a public company is in bad shape, employees don't get raises. Why should it be different for lawmakers? Might actually get them to work to close the budget deficit. But Maldonado doesn't want to have to come up with solutions in order to get a raise. What I will agree to, though, is that this really shouldn't have been tacked on to the budget in the first place. This isn't part of the budget, so why does it matter in face of the deadline? Same thing with the primaries. I don't really understand everything behind it at this point - I know it's a big deal - but why does it need to be tacked on to the budget?

So anyway, I'm actually kinda happy with the results of the delay. Craziness.

Regarding the original budget plan, I do have to comment on the sales tax increase. This doesn't help the economy. I propose a plan more like some other states (Minnesota comes to mine), with sales tax eliminated on necessities (food, school supplies, children's clothing). Then maybe we could increase the sales tax more on other items. Perhaps you just do a moratorium for a year, which would boost the economy by encouraging people to buy more of those necessities now while there is no sales tax on those items. At the very least, we shouldn't be increasing the sales tax on food. How is that helpful at all? People will just be able to afford less, which means food banks will have more demand, which means the government will have to provide more in food stamps and aid. Not smart people.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get our officials to think past the next election?

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