Monday, July 20, 2009

A Lesson to Learn for Nevada

I just wrote this for OC Progressive, but I think this should resonate here as well. We lucked out here in Nevada, to a certain extent. No one wanted Gibbons' Folly, so the main fight was over how much of a tax adjustment we'd get and how much the cuts would be.

But still, the accounting tricks and budget gimmicks can only last for so long. Ultimately, Nevada will have a "California Moment" where we'll either need to implement serious reform or face a full-on fiscal disaster. Whether Barbara Buckley or Rory Reid will be the final Democrat in the 2010 Governor's Election, he/she will need to serious talk about what the state must do in 2011 to avert a California-esque financial nightmare.

So with that being said, read this and take it as a warning:

It looks like a budget deal may finally be made. Yes, yes, I know I've been saying that for a while. But now, it really looks like Arnold is caving on eliminating CalWORKS as Democrats cave on stopping cuts-only madness. While it could have been even worse, this will nonetheless take the cake as a horrendous "deal" that will cause massive pain in many people's lives.

Arnold looks to be getting his desired enrollment cap on Healthy Families, California's S-CHIP program. While other states are actually expanding health care coverage for children of working families, kids will be turned away from the doctors' offices and health clinics here. Oh, and it gets worse. Home health care services for disabled people will be gutted. State parks may be closed. More state workers will be fired.

And you know what makes this even worse? We'll be paying for these cuts long into the future. Remember that it costs more to care for sick people in the emergency room than at the health clinic. It costs more to turn away tourists and day-trippers from state parks than to keep the parks open. It costs more to throw troubled kids in jail than to prevent future crime with good education and after-school programs.

So all in all, "Arnold's Folly" will deeply hurt all of us. And really, this isn't just his folly. Karen Bass [California's Democratic Assembly Speaker] and Darrell Steinberg [California's Democratic Senate Leader] must also share the blame for not doing more to present a progressive alternative. The corporate establishment also shares the blame for refusing to pay their fair share of taxes while still expecting giveaway after giveaway after giveaway. And ultimately, we the people also share the blame for living in la-la land for far too long in expecting all the amenities in the world and refusing to think about paying for any of them.

Thanks to the many silly gimmicks, false accounting, and empty rhetoric in "The Age of Arnold", "The California Dream" now looks to be nothing more than an illusion. Will we ever see it again?

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