That's how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger described the budget mess during his morning address to a joint session of the Legislature. Well yeah, but what makes this "day of reckoning" different from all the others? The governor talked about the need to transform state government, though he didn't offer many specifics other than the slash-and-burn approach now being utilized in the wake of a $24 billion budget shortfall. From AP:
He has outlined a series of cuts that include an additional $5.2 billion reduction in funding for public schools, laying off 5,000 state workers and further cutting the pay of 200,000 others. He has proposed eliminating welfare for 500,000 families, terminating health coverage for nearly 1 million low-income children and closing 220 state parks.
"People come up to me all the time, pleading 'Governor, please don't cut my program.' They tell me how the cuts will affect them and their loved ones," Schwarzenegger said. "I see the pain in their eyes and hear the fear in their voice. It's an awful feeling. But we have no choice."
Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said Schwarzenegger glossed over his own role in creating California's fiscal crisis and showed a "cavalier" attitude about the problems. "He didn't take any responsibility. It's hard to believe he really does care," Ammiano said. "I think it trivialized the crisis, really."
It sounds like everybody is waiting for the crisis to really hit the fan. That happens at the end of July when California really runs out of cash. At that point, does the White House intervene - and how?