Keep the Community Alive in Community College
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

California's Budget - How Long Will It Last?

California legislators finally pulled it all together and passed a budget last week, but it may come unraveled -- again! -- and pretty quickly at that.

This year's budget, which covers from June 2008 through June 2009, wasn't approved till September, a jaw-grinding 85 days late, and then it fell swiftly apart. By December it was so out of balance the governor called a fiscal state of emergency and convened a special session of the legislature... which then haggled till last week when it finally approved a plan covering the rest of this fiscal year and next year as well.

But will it last? Is the California budget in good shape for the next year-and-a-half?

Maybe not so much. There's been no real long-term fix. The state is depending on borrowed money, more stimulus money than the Department of Finance says we're likely to get, and a sale of bonds that depends on voter approval in May.

And even if we can borrow everything we want, get all the economic recovery money we need, and sell those bonds, those are all short-term fixes. We're still at sea in a leaky boat, bailing for all we're worth.

Fred Williams, finance guru at the Chancellor's office, uses terms like "smoke and mirrors" and "house of cards" and "How long can they keep this up?" when explaining the budget.

Sooner or later we need to head for dry dock and fix the damn boat.

Here's a good source of information: The California Budget Project.