In a state that once was a national trendsetter, the 120-member Legislature has California going backward. The 2009 Legislature will be known as a group of self-absorbed politicians who made life more difficult for California's 38 million residents.
We would have been better off if the 80 Assembly members and 40 senators had decided to take the year off instead of showing up for a shameful legislative session. Gridlock would have been an improvement over the backsliding.
Lawmakers couldn't balance the budget all year, and the budget reductions that were finally implemented were so severe because of the inaction that they needlessly hurt millions of California families.
State worker pay was cut drastically, student tuition and fees at California's public universities skyrocketed, victims of domestic violence couldn't get into shelters that had been closed, the state's social safety net was shredded. All this occurred, and more. Then they topped it off by raising our taxes.
If lawmakers had balanced the budget on time, those drastic cuts would not have had to be made because state leaders would have scaled back spending much earlier. There would have been cuts, but they wouldn't have approached what we saw by a panicked Legislature.
The Democratic majority claims to look out for the poor and middle class, but the lawmakers turned out to be miserable enemies of those groups. The legislative session protected the wealthy and stuck it to everyone else.
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