California is in a heap of trouble. A $42 billion heap, to be exact. I’ve never had to figure out how to fix a $42 billion deficit, and I don’t envy Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or his legislative sparring partners. But it’s worth noting some environmental skullduggery that seems to be creeping into the negotiations. (OK, it’s more straightforward than skullduggerous, but that’s just too fun to say.)
First, there’s a push in Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget to exempt several transportation projects from environmental review. Or, to put it more plainly, “Just let us build our highways, you girly men.” Supporters of the California Environmental Quality Act (traditionally known as “Democrats”) are not happy.
Second, the proposed budget deals a death blow to the California Conservation Corps, a state program that trains and employs at-risk youth. “I totally think this is a bad idea,” said former CCC official Bruce Saito (who perhaps did not take CCC’s elocution course). “We talk about economic stimulus packages, so we need to bring in and employ more young people, who historically face the toughest and most challenging obstacles.”
There’s more, too — disagreements over a proposed gas tax and glowering threats about weak levees busting. Check out this piece from the Mercury News for a nice, clear description of the current mess.
And then put yourself in Arnold’s sizeable shoes. On the one, er, foot, you’ve proclaimed that you “will be an environmental leader forever.” On the other, if you don’t make some tough decisions, your state could run out of cash by February — not to mention screwing up the rest of the country. No pressure. Go!