ARNIE'S TAXES....California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday warned schools to expect huge budget cuts this year:
The news, delivered in a conference room outside the governor's office, came as a shock to the educators, who were told to prepare for immediate cuts in the range of $2 billion to $4 billion.
....Analysts say early data indicate that the state budget passed only a month ago has fallen about $10 billion into the red. A deficit that size represents nearly 10% of all general fund spending.
....School officials say the governor is focused on the sales tax because it is one of the few available sources of new revenue that would create immediate cash. Other potential tax hikes, such as increased income taxes for the wealthy, would not boost state coffers for more than a year, when taxpayers begin to file under the new rates.
Golly, governor, California already has the highest state sales tax in the country, but I can think of at least one other broad-based revenue source that could be brought on line fairly quickly: an increase in the vehicle license fee that returns it to the same rate California had for virtually its entire history had, that is, until you demagogued your way into office on a platform of slashing it by two-thirds and stopping all that "crazy deficit spending," a promise that you broke almost instantly when you asked the voters to replace the lost revenue with heavy borrowing in the middle of our last budget crisis. Increasing the VLF back to its historical 2% rate would bring in about $5 billion or so and could be enacted right away. How about it?
POSTSCRIPT: Yes, I'm still bitter about this. Very, very bitter. Can you tell?