Friday, July 24, 2009

Nice Job, Budget Hole

Wow. The California Legislature just does not get it. They just don't. This whole budget debacle has the state on the brink of insolvency and their solutions involve accounting and paperwork tricks, piracy and/or thievery of local governments, borrowing with an interest rate that has increased because the state has almost earned itself junk bond status, and making residents pay an accelerated income tax which results in another 10% being deducted from worker's paychecks. And the best part of this whole dealio? They ("they" being the legislature) act like this is something that has been done TO them. Rather, they've spent the last several years spending money like drunken sailors on leave in a whorehouse. (Sorry drunken sailors. Really, thanks for your service to our country!) They were warned/notified/slapped upside the head time and time again by not just fiscal conservatives, but by regular people who knew that the level of spending that California was doing was simply out of control and was going to result in financial doom. It did. But don't let that stop the Representatives from continuing to blame everything and everyone but themselves. They are awfully proud of their own act, I'll tell you what.

The budget was supposed to have been done sometime back in February, I think. Definitely by May. June 30th at the latest. Here it is the 24th of July and still no budget. But they claim to be close! In fact, theyu were so sure that they were close that there were pictures accompanying all of the news articles about this and they just showed the "Big 5" (which, while also the name of an awesome sporting goods store, really has nothing to do with sports and is just a newly made up term to refer to the top 5 honchos in the Legislature.) standing there just beaming with pride. And The Governator was just gushing about how they had done such a good job with this "difficult problem". Um, perhaps you self-important folks have forgotten this, but, uh, let's do I put this? Oh, right! That's YOUR JOB!! That whole balancing the budget thing? YOUR JOB! Why are you so proud of yourself for doing YOUR JOB? And please don't forget that the only reason that you're having to "struggle" through this in the first place is because of YOUR reckless and irresponsible spending! It's YOUR fault and now YOU'RE fixing it and you act like you've just learned how to levitate! Don't like it? How about you try not forking out so much cash in the future there, Spendy McInsolvent-State.

Here's how they're going to save $1.2 billion (by the way, the amount of the government created deficit is $26.3 billion. I know! Didn't know they had it in them, did you? Yeah, try living here for a while. Nothing will surprise you. Nothing much.): Instead of paying state employees on June 30, they're going to pay them one day later on July 1. July 1 is the start of the new fiscal year. Thus, if you don't pay them on the last day of the old fiscal year, it won't be deducted from that year's budget! Isn't that ingenious of them?! It's such a brillia.....wait. What now?

That's the stupidest solution that they might have come up with yet. Are you kidding me? That's like if you can't figure out how you're going to make your car payment AND your house payment one month. You look at all of your expenses and finally you exclaim, "Honey! I've got it! We just won't pay our car payment this month and that will make it so we have enough money! I'm SO smart!" No. If you think like that, you're not smart, you're an idiot. You still have to PAY for it. Thus, in this example, next month you'll have to pay your car payment for that month AND you'll have to come up with the payment for the month before that you skipped. Er, I'm sorry, I mean "put off". For the payment that you "put off". It's not like they're not going to have to come up with another $1.2 billion EVENTUALLY. Or are they just planning on making this a regular occurence every year? They probably are. Consider it done.

They also always seem to want to borrow money from the lottery fund as well as tax the hell out of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol. Now, while it might seem fiscally responsible to bank your state's budget on the lottery and cigarettes, it's a ridiculous tax in those instances. Sure, I understand that the theory/justification for taxing those products is because they have adverse effects to those who use them and the extra money collected as a tax goes toward things that are supposed to...I guess either warn people of the evils that await them should they indulge in those sinister produts or to help people after their lives have been ruined by that one wine cooler on a hot afternoon. And I'll concede that smoking is incredibly bad for you and will not end well. The jury is still out on whether any alcohol at all is fine and dandy, but overall, as long as used in moderation, alcohol hasn't nearly earned the scourge that has been attached to it. But here's where that argument falters: If it's the adverse effects of using these products, does that mean that there's going to be a bacon tax in the future? An ice cream tax? A pie tax? (Mmmm. Pie.) Obesity is a huge problem (no pun intended) in this country and it's due to the abuse of the fatty foods. But do you hear anyone screaming for the Hostess Police? Only if they've stolen your Twinkies. Ouch.

One of the other highlights in their pathetic proposition is to cut funding for state parks by $8 million. The Governator had originally wanted that budget cut by $70 million. Both rather small pittances considering that the state budget is about $26.3 billion in the hole. Nice job, budget hole. Here's the thing, though: For each dollar that is used to operate state parks, $2.35 is generated in return, for a 135% profit margin. It's MAKING money. Want it to make more? Try raising the fees by a dollar or two. Nothing major. A couple of bucks tops. But they're going to cut one of the more effective sources of revenue instead. Good idea! Sure. Any more bright ideas, budget hole?

Of course there are! But how about the things that they WON'T talk about? They act like making cuts is a bad thing. The state is spending too much money, you morons, you! Yes, I'm sure that at some point, those programs or whatever were a fine idea. Then again, you folks want to turn California into some sort of Shangri-La utopian society. Please remember that the guy in the book that found Shangri-La, he went crazy by the end of the book! What does that tell you about "paradise"? It ain't all it's cracked up to be, that is correct.

Look, almost one third of the California prison population is illegal immigrants. Who's up for a mass deportation project?! Anyone? Hands? Wait. What? What's the problem? There has to be a problem because NO ONE talks about illegal immigration. It is costing the state a gazillion dollars for services for folks who are not even supposed to BE here! Over $7 billion alone just for what it costs to fund education and to make provisions for the vast number of kids in schools that are illegal and, shocking, do not speak English. Yeah, it's hard to get a good education when you have no idea what the crap the teacher is talking about. Really tough that way.

And the waste. My God, the waste! Do you think even one of those Reps has suggested any sort of audit? Anything to account for...well, anything? The waste is insane. Fortunately however, we have The Governator who is willing to do whatever it takes. Not only that, he'll Tweet about it also! WTF? Behold!

Oh what the hell was that? What's with the big knife there, Arnie? And could someone please explain to me that watch he's wearing that is the size of a pie plate. Nearsighted much, Arnold? Sell off some of the state cars! Now that's a brilliant idea. Of course, it WOULD help things if you knew just how many cars the state had. Last time they checked, they couldn't nail down the total amount, but they guessed it was between 70,000 and 78,000. Ah, I forgot that it wouldn't matter what the total is anyway. That time when they counted? Yeah, they couldn't account for almost 20,000 of the vehicles. Hard to say what's up with that.

But hey, if you want to sell what we've got, Arnold, you go right ahead! How about selling some of those legislature seats while you're at it? What's that? Oh, yeah. I forgot. The legislature has already been bought.

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