Pick your poison, Sacramento: taxes, spending cuts or loans

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Sacramento lawmakers return today to tackle the state’s budget deficit. The California constitution says they have only two more weeks to pass the state budget. It’s a good bet they’ll miss that deadline.

Choose your poison. That’s the advice the Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor gave lawmakers not long ago on how to close California’s $19 billion deficit. He told them they’d have to cut spending, raise taxes or float some loans – all of which will hurt the state’s economy.

Governor Schwarzenegger chooses cuts – $12 billion worth. He’s proposing to eliminate California’s welfare-to-work program and gut funding for other health and welfare programs.

Senate Democrats choose taxes – $5 billion worth from delays and repeals of corporate tax breaks.

Assembly Democrats choose loans. They want to borrow $10 billion from Wall Street against future revenues from California’s bottle and can recycling program.

Whatever budget cocktail lawmakers stir up, it’ll likely make them all queasy. And the stomachaches won’t end anytime soon – California faces several more years of multi-billion dollar deficits.