Sen. Bob Dutton
Created: 08/29/2010 08:06:40 PM PDT

For the past year, the state budget process has dragged along at a markedly slow pace with precious little in the way of progress to talk about. It may have come as a pleasant surprise to some then that a budget vote is scheduled for this Tuesday. But despite the assurances you might hear from Democrat leaders, make no mistake, this is only a drill.

The Democrat leadership intends to take up a variation of the governor’s May Revision proposal as well as their own budget framework. Disingenuously, they will not be taking up the most onerous provisions of their plan, upon which their budget proposal ultimately rests – the suspension of the Proposition 98 guarantee for K-14 education funding, state employee pay and benefit reductions, and massive tax increases – $4.4 billion to be exact – on middle-income families and small businesses.

But why take a controversial stand that might anger taxpayers – or worse, the special interests that fund their re-election campaigns – when they can just take a meaningless vote on a phantom spending plan and pretend they actually accomplished something on the budget before the clock runs out on the legislative session?

Inevitably they’ll point the finger at Republicans for being “obstructionists.” Speaker Perez already blasted us weeks ago for “deliberately delaying” the budget process.

The plain truth, however, is that there is nothing to obstruct. The Democrats have been putting off substantive action on the budget since the year began. Their refusal to enact targeted spending reductions in February added $3billion to the deficit we have to solve now – exacerbating the painful spending cuts they now decry.

Why didn’t the Democrats make those necessary cuts? Hope. They hoped the economy would pick up. It didn’t. They hoped to pick up another vote for tax increases if John Laird defeated Sam Blakeslee in a special election earlier this month for Central California’s 15th District Senate seat. The seat became vacant when Abel Maldonado was appointed lieutenant governor. They didn’t. Now it’s the end of August, the budget is eight weeks late, and the people of California are paying the price. The audacity of hope, indeed.

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