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The Grinch Who Stole Sacramento

As Budget Deadlock Worsens, Here’s a Look Ahead to What Might Happen


With California’s budget still deadlocked in the Legislature two months after the new fiscal year began, sources close to my imagination are digging in for an epic battle. Here’s a look at what lies ahead.

September 15: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tries again to break the logjam, offering a new plan to boost revenue through “special user fees on Botox, body oil, and bikini waxes.” Republicans and evangelical leaders promptly denounce the “beauty tax” proposal as “an ungodly effort to pass the metrosexual agenda.”

October 15: GOP leaders unveil new budget-cutting plan, saying the state can save billions by building new prisons adjacent to public high schools, so graduates can go directly to jail. “By incarcerating everyone at 18, we can save billions on higher education and get new efficiencies in our corrections system,” says Assembly Leader Mike Villines. “It’s a win-win for taxpayers.”

November 1: Arnold asks presidential candidates to suspend campaigning in order to mediate budget deadlock. Barack Obama begs off, saying he can’t interrupt his Maui vacation, while John McCain says he will come “as soon as Governor Tree Hugger starts poking some holes in the sea bed.” Paris Hilton releases a new YouTube campaign video; wearing 5-inch heels and a t-shirt reading. “I’m skinnier than Maria Shriver,” she says she will come to Sacramento if she gets comped to party at Frank Fat’s.

November 15: Democratic leaders offer new tax plan, “The Peripheral Canal of Money,” asking taxpayers to toss cash once a month into the California Aqueduct, to be pumped upstream through the Delta directly to the Treasurer’s Office in Sacramento. “Throw in $1, $5, $20-whatever you can afford,” says Speaker Karen Bass, “because it’s all for the children.”

December 15: The governor rolls out another plan to resolve the stalemate, proposing the state lottery begin selling tickets for a new game called “Budget Power Bucks,” in which players bet on the date a new budget will be passed. California casino operators call it “a retrograde raid on the property rights of Native Americans.” Republican Senate Leader Dave Cogdill wins $5.8 million in first round, and announces his immediate retirement from the Legislature.

January 15, 2009: New statewide poll by Public Policy Institute of California finds the number of Californians upset about the impasse growing, with 15 percent expressing the view that “something should be done.” “Although 85 percent of Californians are not aware there’s a budget crisis,” says poll-taker Mark Baldassare, “the findings suggest they’ll be ticked off if they find out.”

February 15: Schwarzenegger, pleading with legislative leaders to join him for face-to-face budget talks, announces plan to re-pitch the smoking tent outside his office: “Let us sit down and settle this like manly men,” he says. Speaker Bass promptly files sexual discrimination charges against the governor.

GOP leaders refuse offer, calling Arnold “a squish” who is “setting the stage to raise taxes on tobacco.”

March 15: The Huffington Post Web site breaks a story that an ad hoc committee, led by former governor Gray Davis, is circulating a petition to recall Schwarzenegger and the entire Legislature. Schwarzenegger denounces the plan as “an unmanly bid to disrupt the orderly process of government.” HuffPost endorses the recall, and sells “Don’t Blame Me-I Voted for Arianna” T-shirts online.

April 15: Jerry Brown announces he will run in the recall election and unveils a new TV ad: “Jerry Brown for governor-this time he’ll get it right.” L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declares his candidacy during an exclusive TV interview which he ends by asking female reporter for her cell phone number. Senator Dianne Feinstein says, “I am seriously considering running, unless I don’t.” John Garamendi throws his hat in the ring, but misses.

May 15: Republicans offer a new proposal to divide the $144 billion budget evenly between every man, woman, and child in the state. “Our Budget Voucher Plan will put money directly in the hands of taxpayers to hire their own state employees, if they choose,” their statement says. Democrats counter with a new “birth license” proposal to charge a $100 fee to anyone planning to have a baby or “performing any physical act which could potentially lead to a baby.”

June 15: Recall voters overwhelmingly oust Schwarzenegger and the Legislature and give a landslide win to former speaker Willie Brown. He immediately appoints himself “Governor, Legislature, and Ayatollah for Life,” and drafts, approves, and signs the budget in two hours.

July 1: As new fiscal year arrives, the Sacramento Bee reports that governor and legislature are far apart on solution for 2009-2010 budget. Brown vows to meet with himself around the clock to find a solution.

For more of Jerry Roberts's poignant, at times whimsical, commentary on the state of the Golden State, see his Capitol Letters Blog at independent.com/capitol-letters.



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