The Budget Kabuki - March 8, 2011
We have been waiting all day to hear some news to lead us to be an optimistic a deal is near. While yesterday ended disappointingly with the "GOP 5"--five Senate Republicans who have been negotiating with the governor--declaring an "impasse," we are also used to the negotiating tactics that have been used for years around the Capitol.
In fact--we use a phrase in Sacramento, "budget Kabuki," after the elaborately choreographed and made-up Japanese dance-drama, to describe the often theatrical developments that occur in tough budget years.
Separating dance steps from serious negotiation meltdowns can be difficult, and even the most veteran observers sometimes call it wrong. Nevertheless, last night's blow up appears to have been traditional budget posturing.
As evidence of that, this afternoon, the "GOP 5"--Senators Blakeslee, Berryhill, Cannella, Emmerson, and Harman--returned to the governor's office and emerged proclaiming progress and optimism.
As of now, we know that the Senate is planning to vote on Thursday for the budget cuts, with or without the tax extension vote. They are planning to make it clear that Democrats are willing to make the difficult votes to cut their beloved programs, which could end some political careers, in an attempt to get the swing Republicans closer to a vote for a June tax election.
Meanwhile, community college advocates have been swarming the Capitol the last two days. Yesterday, 200 FACCC conference attendees met with legislators, and today more community college advocates joined the Board of Governors for an advocacy day. And, this followed the Governor Jerry Brown's surprise appearance at the Board of Governors meeting yesterday.
Keep up the advocacy. I'm betting on a flurry of activity with a budget deal between Friday and Monday nights. However, I've also learned over the years that wagering on legislative activity is a poor substitute to an honest living.
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org