HEADLINES : California
This year's California state budget could be bizarre exercise
Political machinations over the state budget dominate every legislative session, but this year's version of the annual budget game may be particularly bizarre due to a confluence of unusual factors, to wit:
- Not only is it an election year, but incumbents and aspirants will be running in districts that have been altered, sometimes hugely, by the state's new redistricting commission.
- This is also the first year for a new election system in which the top two finishers in the June primary, regardless of party, will face each other in November.
- Legislators briefly lost their salaries last year when they failed to produce a balanced budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline, thanks to a 2010 ballot measure that also gave Democrats hegemony over the budget by eliminating the two-thirds budget vote requirement.
- The 2011-12 budget that Democrats eventually enacted was based on the miraculous assumption of an extra $4 billion in revenue. But most of the miracle money hasn't shown up, and spending is running billions of dollars over expectations, so the budget is already way out of balance.
- Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature's budget analyst are billions of dollars apart on revenue estimates for the rest of the 2011-12 fiscal year and all of 2012-13.