Commentary: Placing ideaology over oath of office

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

For observers outside the Capitol bubble, California's free-fall toward the abyss must seem baffling.

For weeks, lawmakers have known the state was running out of money.

The governor and others have warned that, without a fix in the current-year budget, the state would be forced to lay off state employees and suspend infrastructure projects, putting more people out of work.

Yet as of late Tuesday night, lawmakers still hadn't enacted a partial fix to the $40 billion shortfall, even after the governor began shutting down 276 public works projects and sent layoff notices to thousands of state workers.

It is not as though some state leaders haven't tried to pull the state from the brink.

State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senate Republican leader Dave Cogdill, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have all made concessions on a deal to bridge most of the $40 billion gap.

This compromise includes tax increases that Villines and Cogdill would normally oppose and cuts to the state's safety net that Steinberg and Bass abhor. It also includes hard limitations on future spending – a longtime goal of Republicans.

The deal would have become law days ago if California, like other states, permitted a majority vote to pass a budget or raise taxes. Sadly, that is not the case. Because of the state's two-thirds vote requirement, a handful of Republican senators have blocked passage, even with polls showing that Californians are willing to support tax increases.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.