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The state Legislature adopted a budget less than a month
ago, and it’s already may have turned upside down. If it hasn’t, there’s little
doubt that it will soon. The budget was intended to push the mess into next
year and onto the next Legislature. In that sense, it only may succeed because
the election is coming up fast.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Wednesday with the party
leaders from the state Senate and Assembly. The Big Five didn’t make much
progress on the budget this summer, and there are plenty of lawmakers angry
that their bills were vetoed. Schwarzenegger set a record by vetoing about 35
percent of the legislation passed this year, in many cases saying the late
budget didn’t give him time to review bills in detail.

The next food fight may start sooner than we think.

We will editorialize on the budget in Wednesday’s paper. But
the best description I’ve seen yet was in a column today by Dan Walters of the
Sacramento Bee. He included this quote from an as-yet-unpublished commentary by
Al Checchi, the mega-investor who ran for governor in 1990 and lost the
Democratic primary to Gray Davis:

“The self-delusion manifested in the manner that California
‘balanced’ the current fiscal year
budget, the myopia involved in ignoring the magnitude of future year shortfalls,
and the abdication of fiscal responsibility in failing to provide a feasible basis for funding the long-term
pension and health care obligations promised
California’s public employees, make Wall Street executives, by comparison, paragons of fiscal
responsibility.

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Ouch.

— Jim Sweeney