The Economist, the British weekly newsmagazine, has weighed in on the state's budget stalemate with an only-in-California-type article that alternately mixes disdain and fascination with the state's finances.
Californians like to think of their state as a democratic laboratory, busily inventing ideas that are copied elsewhere. When it comes to budgeting, though, the rest of the world should follow almost any other example. As The Economist went to press, the legislature was debating a budget that one senator described as having been written by chimpanzees. It is almost a month overdue. By California's standards, this is pretty good going.
Republicans are causing the delay, as in the past. Ignoring pleas from Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor, Assembly members won some spending cuts and tax breaks. Then, while they hit the beaches, state senators demanded further cuts. Last week, in order to try to end the debate, the Democratic Senate president locked them in. Senators lounged around like teenagers at an all-night party, amusing themselves by sending messages to conservative blogs. "To update you-we've done nothing," wrote one. They want a mixture of real and symbolic sacrifices-less money for environmental litigation and trade-union studies, for example.
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