I was glad to see the column, because he's absolutely right. The state needs money; too many people depend on state spending in their livelihoods for cuts to make sense; it's time for a tax increase.
But Republican lawmakers won't hear of it, and refuse to discuss new taxes until certain reforms (aka, slashed social services) have been put in place. They are literally making demands - demands - as if the budget debate were some sort of terrorist negotiation and the whole of California were hostage.
Political analyst Tony Quinn, speaking in this article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News, said Republicans could lose the power to stop new taxes for their hostage stunt.
"Republicans are reaching the point," he said, "where they will not be relevant to the political process."
That's because Democrats may have found a loophole in the law that requires an impossible 2/3rds majority vote to raise taxes. If the scheme works, Republican lawmakers will lose their bargaining power.
And rightfully so. The lawmakers haven't been playing fair; they haven't been sharing their toys. They think they can refuse to cooperate with each other and still be picked first when it's time to draw up teams. Yeah, right!
But lawmakers aren't the only ones not doing their jobs. We as citizens fell asleep at the wheel. Through ballot-box budgeting, we have tied our lawmakers' hands so tightly, they cannot do much to fix the crisis we're in.
Want to know just how hard it is? Try your hand at balancing the budget in this Flash game by Next 10. Can you keep California services up to snuff without raising taxes? I don't believe it can be done. Not if we want what's best for our children, Mother Earth, and the California job market.
We need to pressure our lawmakers to find real solutions; we need to stop passing laws that regulate the budget inflexibly. And we especially need to fight the rhetoric that says California can afford to go on without tax increases. When it comes time to put our vote in the ballot box, we need to shake off the zombie fog and do something good for California.