It appears that some Californians are not too pleased with the budget deal that was reached yesterday, specifically due to the fact that it seems many inmates are going to be released early from prison. The deal that was struck was meant to finally bridge the $26.3 billion dollar budget gap that the state of California now has. The deficit would be reduced through a mix of cuts to social services, prisons, budgetary tricks and some increased oil drilling (finally). The LA Times reports:
Less than 24 hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders announced a plan to close California’s massive budget deficit, Los Angeles County officials moved to sue the state, a union for government workers said it might strike, and Republicans threatened to back out of the deal over a provision to cut the number of prison inmates by 27,000.
Apparently it is mostly Republicans who are upset about the imminent release of 27,000 convicted inmates, in particular GOP Assembly leader Sam Blakeslee. In order for the deal to pass the Assembly will have to have at least some Republican support because under the California Constitution budgets must have 2/3 support to pass. However, if the budget deal does fail to pass there may be plenty of blame to go around. There are plenty provisions in the deal that the liberals are not happy about, especially the fact that there will be deep budget cuts to social programs and the largest union in the state . . . the teachers union. Thousands of teachers will get the axe should the budget deal pass.
At this point though, what choice do you have California? The simple fact of the matter is that if you were a private citizen you would have already been forced into bankruptcy. Your wonton use of IOUs as a pseudo currency strikes me as a dubious solution, particularly since at some point those IOUs are going to come due, with interest, thus putting your state more in the hole. Yes, there is a lot not to like about this budget deal, but in drastic times you must take drastic measures.
If you want my 2 cents, it seems one easy solution here is to just decriminalize marijuana. The state spends billions on incarcerating, prosecuting and enforcing marijuana laws. Even if you don’t want to legalize it, decriminalize it and you could save yourself billions right there. If you were wise, you could legalize the weed and then tax the crap out of it brining billions more into the state coffers. Plus, you’d put a lot of bad guys who come over the borders to cause trouble out of business.