Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Cynical About the End of "Cynical Borrowing"?

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Like mysteries and sci-fi, the literary genre known as the California state budget is best classified as fiction, albeit fiction inspired by real events. Most years, as a matter of practice if not law, the legislature and governor close budget agreements by putting in cuts or borrowing or taxes that they know are illegal and are likely to be thrown out of the courts. - just to make the numbers add up. This isn't good. It's how things are.

Democratic legislative leaders, in introducing a new budget proposal, say they want to end this "cynical borrowing."

Reaction: you should be cynical about that promise.

It's not that lawmakers' intentions aren't good. The borrowing -- or accounting gimmickry, as it's often called in the press -- is not a good thing. It means that budgets aren't really balanced. It creates hidden costs for the state, in terms of additional short-term borrowing for cash flow that's required to make up these gaps that everyone knows are being created (but can't be acknowledged).

No, the problem with ending "cynical borrowing" is that, given the restrictions on legislators in California ratchet-style system of spending shackles and tax chains, it's virtually impossible to create a balanced budget without some cheating.

To blame lawmakers for using such cynical manuevers is not unlike blaming fish for swimming, birds for chirping, or Lady Gaga for attention-seeking. 

Cynical budget manuevering is what legislators do.

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