State of play: California's laid-back lawmakers blew by the June 15 deadline for passing a budget Sunday without notice, let alone apology or shame. Amid widespread Capitol reports that no one in power has the slightest clue how to resolve this year's $17 billion deficit mess, both Democrat-dominated houses have passed their own versions of the budget, to add to the widely-trashed let's-lease-the-lottery plan Gov. Terminator tossed them last month. The so-called "Big Five" the party leaders in each house and the Great Man himself are now waving their arms and wagging their chins at each other over how to find a compromise, which so far has had as much effect as publishing poetry.
Numbers junkies will find a major numerical fix comparing the three versions, prepared by the California Budget Project, at this website. Of local interest: Democratic state senate candidate Hannah Beth Jackson performs the greatest display of tap dancing since the great Gregory Hines passed when she's asked whether she supports the current Senate Democrats' proposal for $11.5 billion in new taxes to balance the budget.
Despite the budget gloom, goos-goos across the state got a glimmer of good news Monday, when the secretary of state qualified the governor's latest reapportionment reform initiative for the November ballot. The increasingly tedious annual budget war, along with other chronically dysfunctional features of our alleged government in Sacramento, directly result from the current goofy practice of allowing lawmaker to draw their own districts. The new initiative would give the job to an independent commission, and John Myer of San Francisco public radio station KQED has the story here.
Still looking for a reason to care about the state's budget mess? Develop an instant rooting interest by emailing Capitol Letters your best guess of the day and time when the Governator inks the pact on the 2008-09 budget. Winner gets lunch on me at the fabulous Beachside Cafe, plus an autographed copy of my biography of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Second place gets two copies of the book. Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.