From California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s press conference unveiling his budget proposal amidst a $19.1 billion deficit:
“California no longer has low-hanging fruits – we don’t have any medium-hanging fruits, and we also don’t have any high-hanging fruits,” Schwarzenegger said, explaining the cuts Friday at a news conference in Sacramento. “We have to take the ladder from the tree and shake the whole tree.”
And no, he wasn’t making a Steve Miller Band reference. (At least, I hope not.)
Though Sacramento’s spending commitments must be addressed, it’s interesting that the governor targeted eliminating the welfare-to-work program known as CALWorks, along with certain child care funding. For their part, Democrats are wailing for a delay in scheduled corporate tax breaks. As if further depleting business capital is the answer to balancing the state’s budget.
There are no easy, “comprehensive” answers for reforming California’s budget crisis. But there is a better place to start the discussion: suspend AB 32, Schwarzenegger’s signature global warming bill.
In fact, that’s the name of a group making the case that since California is responsible for – at most – 1.4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, AB 32’s severe, self-imposed restrictions amount to a jobs killer. The group estimates that when fully implemented, AB 32 will cost the state 1.1 million jobs, the average family $3,857, and each small business $49,691.
The net result? “Devastated budgets of California social services agencies through massive losses in tax revenue.”
Granted, suspending AB 32 would be largely symbolic, but if Schwarzenegger took the ax to his prized “green” bill, he could chalk it up to serious times calling for serious budgets. When times are good, economies can afford to absorb major public investments on microscopic returns. These are not those times. Californians have needs and wants; it’s past time the state’s nutty politicians understood the difference.