Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Budget in Sight

PHOTO: A man dressed as the Grim Reaper and wearing an Arnold Schwarzenegger mask helps lead a "die-in" in Los Angeles to show opposition to state budget cuts. (John W. Adkisson, Los Angeles Times / June 14, 2010)

You could be forgiven for missing the significance of June 16. Our elected officials don't seem interested in talking about it, either. As the Los Angeles Times writes:
State lawmakers blew past a constitutional deadline to pass a budget Tuesday, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democrats who control the Legislature remain far apart on how to solve California's estimated $19.1-billion deficit.
Sacramento has made a habit of ignoring the budget deadline -- especially in election years. In 2008, the budget was a whopping 93 days late. When that happens, the state basically stops running and the most vulnerable people in the state suffer the most.

On July 1, the state's new fiscal year starts. Without a new state budget, the state's social support system basically stops functioning: welfare checks don't go out and drug treatment programs aren't able to pay their bills. Somehow, even without a budget, the state finds the resources to continue arresting and incarcerating people for nonviolent, low-level offenses like stealing food from the grocery store and personal drug possession.

This year, the ACLU of Southern California and other groups (see photo) are working to keep the pressure on our elected officials to pass a budget as soon as possible -- and do the least damage to California families.

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