A court decision last week blocked $1 billion in potential budget savings for the state. And it made clear something else about California's never-ending budget crisis:
While the state constitution says that the budget must be balanced, provisions of that constitution make balancing the buget virtually impossible.
The new court decision said the state couldn't take money dedicated to early childhood programs through the First Five programs.
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These programs have plenty of money because they were created by a ballot initiative with designated tax moneys.
But the legislature and governor had been interested -- and with good reason -- in moving some money from these programs, which have surpluses, to other programs on children's health that are suffering cutbacks.
A state court, however, said such transfers from one program to the other aren't permitted in California.
That's because the constitution makes it plain that decisions made by ballot initiatives -- including funding for these particular early childhood education programs -- cannot be amended without another vote of the people.
California is the only state where initiatives are so inflexible.
Which is why it's especially hard to balance the budget here. Lawmakers and governors have little discretion and ability to change up budgets.
They're locked in by ballot measures and the constitution itself.