Brett Retires, Budget Deficit Fights On

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Maybe we should be like Brett. Favre, that is.

Yesterday he told his Minnesota teammates that he’s hanging up his cleats. The gray hair has long outnumbered the dark, and most have opined that Brett’s time has come and gone. 

He waited until just a few days before the season begins, and that timing won’t help the Vikings much, but at least he’s reached a decision and is moving forward.

Can we get the legislature to do the same thing?

It’s been more than a month since our legislators were supposed to approve a state spending plan. But instead of a solution, we have stalemate, and a 19-billion dollar deficit that seems to grow angrier each day.

Still, if Californians are nothing else, we are optimistic. And now the Democrats are at least bringing the debate back in front of the voters, as Assembly Speaker John Perez outlined his party’s budget ideas yesterday.

The plan seems to be centered around a single concept: The Dems will raise taxes, but only the taxes that we’ll be able to deduct from our federal income tax. So essentially, we’ll dip our hands into the pockets of our good buddies out in Washington, and make them pay at least part of the bill.

You gotta love that. 

Here’s part of the plan. Assembly Democrats will propose hiking our state income tax, and also raise the license fee on cars. You’ll remember this is the same issue Ah-nold used to help oust Gray Davis back in the day. So, we pay those taxes, then claim the deduction on our federal return.  

For most people, that means the feds will essentially pay for about a third of the tax hike. Do the math here, because that means two-thirds of it still comes out of your pocket. 

The Dems sweeten the deal by lowering the state sales tax, which is NOT deductible, and they argue most Californians would actually pay less in total taxes.

“We actually put more money in the pockets of taxpayers at every income level," Speaker John Perez says.

But the GOP calculators aren’t coming up with the same result. They say the math is fuzzy, and won’t really work.  

So they’re standing firm on “no new taxes”, and have already sentenced the proposal to the worst three words in Sacramento (or Washington, for that matter): “dead on arrival.”

The Governor’s mouthpiece said simply, “Their plan is predicated on a giant tax increase, and tax increases are DOA.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger is demanding cuts, leaving the Speaker frustrated.

“The governor’s proposal would cost the state of California 400,000 jobs,” says Perez.   “It’s something we simply can’t afford to do. I hope the Governor reconsiders his position.”

The GOP says the Democratic plan would only fill about 10% of the budget hole, and that serious cuts are still the only solution to this mess.

It all still sounds like a stalemate.

In fact, Governor Schwarzenegger says he won’t sign any budget he feels is fiscally irresponsible, even if it means leaving the whole mess for his successor. 

Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman would be left to sort through that. Call them the Sage Rosenfeld of Sacramento. (Rosenfeld is likely to succeed Brett Favre in Minnesota, and no, there’s no reason you should have known that, unless you bleed Viking Purple.)

So the Democrats are doing what Brett Favre would do in this situation. Throw the Hail Mary.  

They don’t always work, but again, just like Brett, time is running out.

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