Like the lonely and lovelorn who face New Year's Eve without a date or a party invitation, California finds itself on yet another June 30 — fiscal New Year's Eve — without a budget. The Legislature was required to adopt one two weeks ago and the governor is mandated to sign it Thursday, but the Legislature hasn't called and the governor didn't even send a card. Fine. We've been here before, year after year. We'll wake up tomorrow with no hangover, no parade, no bowl games, no confetti in our hair, just cranky and bitter.
But this year can still be different if Californians want it to be. All that's required are some resolutions — and enough resolution to stick with them.
First, we must resolve to limit expenditures in good times and hold the savings in reserve. California must eventually give its leaders more decision-making power, not less, but in the current era of mistrust, term limits and supermajority vote requirements, lawmakers have shown themselves unable to exercise restraint when there is money to spend, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proved unwilling to fight them annually to put money aside as a hedge against hard times. Instead, he wants the reserve mandated by law so that he and his successors don't have to battle for it each year. The state needs budget reform, and the governor is right to push for it.