Combating the Crisis

February 1 has come and
gone, and the California government has not yet shut down.

Walking
around the typical California town, one could even go so far as to
say that things feel exactly the same way they did before February 1.

Why February 1, you might be asking?

It was the doomsday predicted by some California government
leaders as the day by which if the state budget issue wasn’t
resolved, things would start to change, the state would go broke, and
the government might have to shut down. Judging by the successful
mail delivery today, things haven’t gone completely to, well, a
bad place.

February 5 marked the
beginning of furloughs for about 200,000 state employees. Not great,
but jobs were not lost in the process. February 11 marked the
possibility of a turning point, as representatives from the
governor’s office and state officials divulged that a budget
“framework” had been agreed upon. (February 11 also
marked the 98th day of the legislature’s “failure
to act,” as counted down by the governor’s office, and
also came two days before the threatened state employee layoffs were
to begin).

Unfortunately, some of
the unofficial details of the framework were more upsetting and
comforting. If true, Californians will face some rather ugly details.
On top of current financial woes, residents may also see 2.5 percent
increase in property taxes, an increase in the sales tax and a $0.12
increase in the gas tax, among other things.

The governor knows
better than anybody at this point just how stretched the resources of
the California budget are: as it is, the state is staring at a
$42 billion price tag, and that estimate isn’t even a
generous one. The governor has still managed to speak out on the
importance of green energy and decreasing fuel emissions over the
last month, but as a pragmatist, he must realize that lofty
ideals cannot come before what is necessary. In a statement earlier last month, the governor discussed the delays in
infrastructure projects because of funding woes.

If state politicians
don’t get serious, and get serious fast about the budget,
Californians will be forced out of their comfort zones as politicians
are forced to face some harsh realities: Even more job
cuts, a populace with fewer extraneous dollars to spend and important
choices ahead of what programs are integral and which need to be cut.
This is not a time to begin personal projects, but to come together
as responsible citizens and fix the problem at hand. Spending on
projects with little to no immediate yield is irresponsible in the
worst way.

Our state’s total financial collapse may not have arrived
on February 1, but that’s not to say it’s not still
heading this way.