Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Golden State's empty purse

Man am I glad I'm not in charge of dealing with California's current budget deficit. The state's roughly $24 billion in the hole. I tinkered around with the LA Times' budget balancing tool, and while I was able to slash the deficit to a mere fraction of the original, that involved throwing in some tax increases (high income, oil, alcohol, tobacco).

I hope the politicians don't dig a deeper economic hole for themselves by cutting funding for education, a proposal other lawmakers have made. At a time in American history when the country is loosing it's advantage in the collective mind-power category, it's hard to think of something stupider than cutting aid for students, school funding, etc. In addition, since the national economy is shifting from mixed-services and manufacturing based more towards a services economy — thus relying on an educated workforce — I'd be appalled, though not altogether surprised, by a lawmaker who favored demolishing public education instead of taxing the wealthy a bit more, or cutting down on senseless bureaucratic spending.

Well the June 15 deadline has already passed, California has a wonderful social model in some respects — decent government funding for education, medical and welfare, medical marijuana (I wonder why taxing cannabis hasn't come up as a budget-saving option...). It'd be a shame to see the all state's governmental services collapse. Republicans, including the state's body-builder governor, equate raising any taxes with shaking hands with the devil; and yet no truly viable alternative has been proposed.

This is all-the-more interesting when you consider that if California were an interdependent country, it would be the sixth largest global economy, which makes the prospect of economic failure and the collapse of the state-wide welfare system have even wider national implications. Well, the folks in Sacramento have until July 1 to settle all this...