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Dan Walters on the Budget

The Sacramento Bee‘s Dan Walters provides a sobering analysis of the current budget process:

A two-house conference committee is plowing through the relatively minor differences between the two Democratic versions of the budget. The Senate’s proposal is slightly more liberal than the Assembly’s, meaning it’s less willing to make health and welfare cuts that the governor wants, but both are somewhat more generous to education than the governor.

The Senate ignores Schwarzenegger’s lottery gambit and includes $11.5 billion in new taxes of some kind while the Assembly splits the difference, adopting a smaller version of the lottery plan and assuming $6.4 billion in new taxes.

Democratic leaders insist that they are being straightforward by proposing new taxes and eschewing the accounting gimmicks that have marked past budgets, but by plugging in multibillion-dollar revenue numbers without saying what taxes they want to raise or which loopholes they want to close, they’re still bobbing and weaving. Republican legislators are, however, being even less candid; they say they oppose new taxes but aren’t willing to say what they want to cut.

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