Commentary: California's red ink continues to rise

No lawmaker, Democrat or Republican, can possibly relish the task of closing another multibillion-dollar, mid-year budget shortfall.

But they have no choice. Too many of them are acting as if they do.

Several lawmakers seem heartened that California's tax receipts ran $1.3 billion more than expected in January.

But with the state's unemployment rate still above 12 percent, legislators are deluding themselves if they believe that tax dollars are going rain down on Sacramento come April 15.

California remains in a terrible recession and budget crisis. With some notable exceptions, lawmakers don't seem to be facing the reality that they must pare $6 billion from the current year's budget, and start solving the deficit looming for the fiscal year starting on July 1.

Republicans and some Democrats refuse to consider any taxes, including enforcing existing laws by increasing collections. Democrats refuse to make significant cuts, particularly in social services and health care for the poor.

After years of bad budgets, Democrats figure they have cut all they can. They have zero incentive to cut more deeply this early in the process, when Republicans, the minority in the state, seem unwilling to consider even modest tweaks to the tax code.

Either house has yet to make a real or significant spending reduction.

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