Commentary: No help from feds means more California budget woes

Scarcely three weeks ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his final budget, predicated on the outlandish notion that the federal government would cough up almost $7 billion more to cover California's budget deficits.

Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders then jetted off to Washington to lobby for a federal bailout, but received — at best — a cool reception even from the state's congressional delegation, much less other federales.

This week, President Barack Obama unveiled his own budget and it contains, at most, less than a quarter of what Schwarzenegger wants — such as no more than a token payment to the state to cover imprisoning illegal immigrant felons.

"This represents a down payment on what California is owed," Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said after the Obama budget was released. "The governor will continue his work with the Obama administration and congressional delegation to secure the balance."

OK, but meanwhile California's budget woes worsen by the day. Officially, the state has a $19.9 billion deficit for the remaining five months of this fiscal year and all of the next, but there's every reason to believe it will be worse, given the sorry history of budget forecasts. In just two months, Controller John Chiang says, the state will face the year's first cash crunch — a lack of money to pay its outstanding bills — unless Schwarzenegger and legislators act quickly.

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