Them That's Got

If you belong to one of the groups targeted for a good squeezin' called on to sacrifice in the governor's budget plan-- college students, public school teachers, families on welfare-- rest assured that the truly needy will still be well taken care of.

Kate Folmar reports in the San Jose Mercury News:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to boost spending on his personal office next year by more than 5 percent, even as a lean budget prompts him to limit welfare grants and ask college students to pay higher tuition.

For the second year running, the Republican governor seeks to peg spending on his 185-person staff to an inflationary formula that dictates spending for the state Legislature and some courts.

In and of itself, Schwarzenegger's proposal wouldn't break the bank - adding only $1 million to the $103 billion state budget.

But the notion galls some observers because it smacks of the formula-driven "autopilot" spending Schwarzenegger railed against in 2005 as he campaigned for the power to make unilateral budget cuts.

And, Schwarzenegger's budget simultaneously expects others - notably welfare recipients and public university students - to take hits. California's revenue projections are cooling due to lackluster home sales and lower-than-expected tax payments.

The call for more spending in the governor's office leaves Mike Herald, a legislative advocate for the Western Center for Law and Poverty, "dumbfounded."

"They don't think a cost-of-living adjustment is appropriate for the poorest people in the state, but it's perfectly fine for the people making $100,000 in the governor's office?" he said. "I just can't reconcile that."

Some members of legislature are described as "diplomatically skeptical" regarding the boost for the governor's retinue, but skepticism, especially of the diplomatic kind, isn't the same as opposition. Folmar quotes Assembly Budget Chairman John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), who says, "I'm sure we'll work something out to everyone's satisfaction."

I suppose that depends on one's definition of "everyone". But members of legislature don't have time to worry about little things like that. These days, there's "a lot of activity" in Sacramento.

According to Jim Sanders of the Sacramento Bee,

A modern-day Gold Rush has erupted over $43 billion targeted for California public works projects, with legislators crafting dozens of bills to affect how the money is spent.

Voter passage of the record bond package last November has spawned a frenzy in which communities and their officeholders are fighting for a piece of the massive pot.

[…]

Lobbyists are counting on a windfall from intense jockeying over bond funds.

"I think it's safe to say that there's money being spent, and there's probably a great deal more money to be spent as the bonds are let and the monies become available," said Don Burns, a veteran lobbyist. "There's no question but that it does spawn a lot of activity."

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Of course, all involved assure Sanders that every decision is being made with solely the greatest public good in mind, and with a purity of heart that would put a vestal virgin to shame.

Others may be excused if reading the news this morning, they hear the less virginal Billie Holiday singing some familiar words, Them that's got shall get...


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