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July 23, 2012



And speaking of open government, this from the SacBee's Dan Walters yesterday

As noted in this space and other venues, many provisions of the so-called "budget trailer bills" that the Legislature wrote in secret and hastily enacted last month had nothing, in fact, to do with the budget.

To establish a tenuous connection to the budget, Democratic legislators inserted token $1,000 appropriations in measures that make major changes in law.

One elevated Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase measure to the top of the November ballot. The maneuver is now being challenged in court, but regardless of the outcome, it's a shabby, underhanded way of rewriting election law without public notice, hearings or other democratic processes.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4648269/dan-walters-so-called-trailer.html#storylink=cpy


The risk with rail
The Press-Enterprise, Riverside

The Legislature’s approval of money for high-speed rail construction was a grandiose political gesture, not fiscal realism. The state’s best course would be to stop the bullet train before it flattens taxpayers. But at least legislators should keep this risky project from turning into an even larger public boondoggle. And the Legislature should reject any thought of asking Californians to kick in more money for this train....

(Complete Press-Enterprise op-ed piece reprinted, kindness of SM Daily Journal)


The SacBee is still tracking the state finances with good green eyeshades:

Democrats say voters need look no further than California's $91 billion general fund budget to see how dramatically they have cut. That spending total is 11 percent below the state's pre-recession peak.

But the number can be misleading.
While California has cut education and services for the poor, budget writers also have relied on creative revenue streams and accounting maneuvers to move programs off the general fund books rather than cut them.

That has made comparisons difficult and, experts say, contributed to state bookkeeping disparities that have emerged in recent weeks.
"We've been through a period of extreme financial difficulty where each year's budget package has involved many complex changes," said Jason Sisney, a deputy at the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. "Frankly, it's so complex that it defies easy description. Not to say it's bad, but it's complex, and we've done a lot of it just because of the scale of problems we've had."

While the general fund has fallen 11 percent since 2007-08, California special fund spending grew more than 47 percent over the same period, from $26.7 billion to $39.4 billion this fiscal year.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/18/4736652/californias-general-fund-spending.html#storylink=cpy

I'm surprised by the LAO saying mosre complexity is not necessarily a bad thing. That has not been my experience in any kind of budgeting nor does it account for the magical millions "found" in the Parks fund.

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