Add this morning's new report from the Legislative Analyst's Office to the growing chorus of warning signs about the fiscal year that lies ahead for California.
The LAO believes that the weakened economy, the shaky budget, and the defeat of the budget-related ballot measures could force state government to seek as much as $23 billion in short-term borrowing from investors in the budget year that begins on July 1.
And now, the kicker: that might be impossible to pull off.
It wasn't specifics that reporters learned today in a wide-ranging chat with the leader of the state Senate, but rather a map for the budget debate that lies ahead -- regardless of what happens in the May 19 special election.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's main message was this: if the budget-related ballot measures pass, the remaining deficit is likely manageable. If they don't, it won't be pretty.
"Is it a scare tactic?," said the Democratic leader. "No, it's reality. The numbers are the numbers."
The 'Plan B' scenarios if the special election measures are defeated continue to trickle out of the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This afternoon, a new one: the governor is prepared to propose a $2 billion suspension of the 2004 constitutional initiative protecting city and county revenues.
Talk of suspending 2004's Proposition 1A comes on the heels of a meeting yesterday where Schwarzenegger aides told the firefighting community that voters rejecting the measures on the ballot in two weeks time would result in as many as 1,700 firefighting positions.
With no fanfare, the main campaign in support of the six budget measures on the May 19 ballot has pivoted to a media blitz focused on just two measures... the two with the most state budget money riding on them, and the two that are most valuable to the campaign's biggest donors.
Unlike press releases heralding earlier ads, there was no notification to the media that the Budget Reform Now campaign was launching a new ad, one featuring a firefighter warning of possible bad times ahead.
That may be. But let's dig into the numbers for a couple of ponderables, including even a few that hint all might not be decided.
Four of the six measures on next month's statewide ballot seek to pull money, from various sources, to help plug the state's immediate and near-term budget hole.
One of them, if voters approve, would widen that hole by more than $9 billion dollars.
That measure is Proposition 1B, a complicated one-time solution to a fight over how much state government is legally obligated to pay for K-12 education and community colleges. And it is the focus of our ongoing coverage of special election measures on this morning's edition of The California Report.
The opening TV ad from the omnibus campaign to pass all six budget ballot measures is out, and it's clear that the campaign is appealing to the popular sentiment that only voters can rein in those pesky politicians.
The ad from the campaign led by Governor Schwarzenegger uses the common sense of an average Joe to make its case for Propositions 1A-1F. The message: these are a way for "us voters to clean things up."
With the statewide special election now less than five weeks away, the first TV ad of the campaign to pass the budget-related measures is out.
And given its backers, it's not surprising which measures it promotes.
Unless something incredibly crazy happens, here's the first and only campaign prediction you'll see on this newsblog: Proposition 1F is going to pass on May 19. Big time.
The last public poll showed a whopping 81% of voters surveyed like the measure to deny pay raises for elected officials in bad budget years for the state. Shocking, no?
But the foregone conclusion feeling surrounding Prop 1F begs the question... what is state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) really selling on his new campaign website? The answer: a lot.
The first campaign ads have been released by backers of the six budget-related ballot measures, sending a simple and expected message to voters: vote yes or things will get worse.