Call the printers, Mr. Controller. It's time to get the IOUs ready.
Yes, the rhetoric in California's never-ending budget crisis is that neither Gov. Schwarzenegger nor the top Democrat in the state senate, Darrell Steinberg, are in any hurry to agree on a budget, as the Sacramento Bee noted today. In fact, they don't see the need to do a budget this year -- unless they get concessions from the other side. This comes on the heels of similar rhetoric from Assembly Speaker John Perez, who is counting the days until there's a new governor.
Why the brinksmanship? Steinberg and Perez feel like Democrats have compromised too much for too long, in accepting cuts to programs they support. Schwarzenegger feels like he has one last chance -- in this budget negotiations -- to get structural reforms in the budget process, and in the state's pension system, that he has sought since he took office nearly seven years ago.
And there's another factor: the voters and courts have put so much spending on cruise control that there isn't much pressure to do a budget. Yet.
That will change. The losers in this contest, if it becomes a long contest, could be people who rely on the state for money. The state's cash picture isn't bad this summer, but if the budget goes unresolved into the fall, the state could run out of cash and that could mean IOUs.