Commentary: California's unending budget cycle

By now, Californians should be used to wall-to-wall political campaigns. Today will be the 10th statewide election we've had since the 2002 primary, and chances are good we'll have an 11th next year.

But in this great state of now, we may have to get used to wall-to-wall state budgeting as well.

This week, even before all the slimy floors have been washed and the detritus recycled – and almost certainly before all the votes are counted and all the lawsuits filed – California's legislators will be back in session to try to clean up a little of the budget disaster they approved just a little over six weeks ago. And as soon as that's done, sort of, we'll be starting the process all over again.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be right that the effort will have a better chance of success with the election over, meaning that for some members, the personal stakes may be lower and the chances for statesmanship marginally higher.

It's also possible – and fervently to be wished for – that the election itself will provide some clarity. It's not likely the Democrats will get a two-thirds majority in either house of the Legislature. But substantial losses for the GOP's ancient régime, both here and across the country, might signal to even the most calcified of our troglodytes that their rigid theology of no new taxes and government as the penultimate evil has to accommodate new circumstances.

Unlike the feds, who will have to deficit-spend the country out of its rapidly deepening recession, California can't borrow its way out of its fiscal mess. It was our attempt to do that over much of the past decade that got us to the monster deficits we now face.

To read the complete column, visit The Sacramento Bee.