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

Filling a Budget Black Hole Created by Voters



    This image taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope on July 23 shows a galaxy, called NGC-1097, which is located 50 million light-years away. It is spiral-shaped like our Milky Way, with long, spindly arms of stars. The "eye" at the center of the galaxy is actually a monstrous black hole surrounded by a ring of stars.

    California voters blew an additional hole in the state budget of more than $1 billion by passing Prop 22, a November initiative to guarantee certain revenue streams to local government.

    Gov. Schwarzenegger's swan-song budget proposal, released Monday, is politically dead on arrival -- except for one fix that would clean up part of the mess voters made with Prop 22.

    Prop 22, in its attempt to close down loopholes that the state might use to cut local government funds, barred the state from using certain excise taxes on fuel to pay transportation bond debt. That single change is responsible for most of the budget problem created by Prop 22.

    Schwarzenegger's proposal, according to the Sacramento Bee, "works around Proposition 22 by moving the fuel excise taxes through another transportation revenue stream -- vehicle weight fees. The vehicle weight fees would pay for bond debt, while the excise tax money would pay for transportation projects formerly financed by weight fees."

    Yes, it's an elaborate switcheroo of funds to save the people from themselves. It's not inspiring, but it's the stuff of governance in a budget system as broken as California's.