California lawmakers blow budget deadline

Midnight Tuesday night was the constitutional deadline for California’s legislature to pass a state budget. The legislature had to come up with a plan that closes a $19 billion deficit. That plan is a long way from getting done.

There’s a saying that lawmakers won’t pass a state budget until the temperature reaches 100 in Sacramento. It’s only in the mid-80s this week – but that’s not why the legislature missed the deadline.

It comes down to ideology: Democrats and Republicans disagree on how much to spend on government.

Democrats refuse to cut any more – and instead are proposing taxes, borrowing and shifting some state services to the counties to maintain health and welfare programs. They point out that the non-partisan legislative analyst says state spending as a percentage of personal income is at its lowest level in a decade.

Republicans refuse to support anything they say will hurt the state’s economy; that means no new taxes, fees or delays in tax breaks. They say government spending should shrink when state revenues shrink.

This ideological divide is why Democrats and Republicans are likely to blow past all the budget deadlines and spend another summer spewing hot air – no matter how high the temperature rises in Sacramento.