Such a deal …

It’s yet another sign that California has become ungovernable

“Kicking the can down the road.” That’s how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger describes the way he and the Legislature have been dealing with California’s structural budget deficit—coming up with temporary and gimmicky solutions that don’t really solve the problem.

Well, they’ve done it again. This week he and the four leaders of the Legislature made a deal that once again will fail to end the crisis, will offer only temporary relief from the current paralysis, and will do so largely at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, its students, and cities and counties.

Welcome to the great state of Mississ … er, California.

You want potholes? You got ’em, since the state proposes to commandeer much of the cities’ and counties’ road-maintenance funding. You want fewer college students paying higher fees? Easy: just lop billions—20 percent altogether—from the higher-ed budget. You want up-to-date textbooks for students? Forget about it. The budget deal would put a five-year freeze on new purchases.

And if you think things are bad in the public schools now, just wait until the additional $4.3 billion in cuts takes hold.

Many of the reductions are going to end up costing taxpayers far more in the long term than they save today. Slashing funding for In-Home Supportive Services, for example, will force many disabled people out of their homes and into more-expensive nursing facilities.

Yes, we’re in a recession. All of us need to tighten our belts. But there is no reason to turn California into a third-world state in order to survive. Why not an excise tax on oil production? Every other oil-producing state has one, and it could generate $1 billion a year. And why not close the recently enacted corporate tax loopholes that will give more than $2 billion to big business? And why did the governor threaten to veto a bill that would have applied the sales tax to Internet purchases in the state?

Fortunately, a lot of other people are furious about the budget deal and are lining up to sue if it passes. That includes the Butte County supervisors, who this week authorized joining the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties in filing a lawsuit if the budget deal passes.

This is all just further evidence that California has become ungovernable and needs a thorough structural reworking.