That stink you smell is coming from the State Capitol, where legislators and the governor seem incapable of doing the people’s business and coming up with a budget in time. By law they have until July 1, and what fool’s going to bet they make it?

Republicans and Democrats alike have had a hand in creating this cesspool, as have factors outside their control. It’s too late now to play the blame game. The state is facing an incredible $38 billion budget shortfall, and it’s time to do something about it.

Let’s start with Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrats. They need to stop currying favor with special-interest groups and cut spending. They can start with the prison system, shelving new-prison construction and releasing nonviolent offenders on parole. They can trim state government, where the number of people earning more than $100,000 annually has quintupled since 1995. They can begin the process of reforming Prop. 13 to exempt business property. The list goes on.

Republicans need to stop this insane insistence on not raising taxes. There’s no way you can fill a $38 billion hole without raising taxes. It’s just not possible, and to say otherwise is just political gaming.

Yes, it will be necessary to borrow money to balance the budget, but $17 billion, as Davis has proposed? That just puts off the problem until next year—and the years after that. It’s cowardly—and bad for the state’s health.

Compromise is in order. We’re not hopeful, however. Redistricting has given most legislators safe seats, so they’re not worried, and with a recall election looking more and more likely, Davis is hedging his bets with special-interest contributors. Meanwhile, the rest of us hold our noses and hope.