California dreamin’

Next up on the federal bailout schedule: California.

At least that’s what California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping, according to a recent Los Angeles Times news story.

Like nearly every other governor in the country, Schwarzenegger is grappling with horrendous budget shortfalls. In California, the deficit this year could be $20 billion. So Schwarzenegger plans to ask federal authorities to provide $8 billion in assistance to his state to help cover the shortfall, the Times story said. If that doesn’t occur, the Terminator plans to severely cut or eliminate much of the state’s welfare system, the story said.

Nice bit of political blackmail, that is.

It would be a horrible precedent for Congress or the Obama administration to accede to Schwarzenegger’s demands. California lawmakers legislated their state into its current predicament — with Schwarzenegger’s approval since he declined to veto much of their spending excess. It should not be up to taxpayers in other states to bail them out now, especially when virtually every other state government faces its own budget crisis.

We don’t recall California offering to send excess money our way when its coffers were full.

California lawmakers and the voters who repeatedly elected them need to come to grips with the fact that their abundant and costly programs — on everything from energy to education to social welfare — brought the state to its current predicament while excessively high taxes have helped drive businesses away. Those of us in states that were more frugal still face serious budget problems. We shouldn’t be expected to bail California out now.

We hope this latest proposal is nothing more than a Schwarzenegger pipe dream that quickly evaporates.


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