The recent frenzied cadence of political drum-beating cannot have escaped your attention. California finally has a budget. A VERY controversial budget.
Amid partisan and special interest outcry that oxen are being permanently crippled and worse, both the Senate and Assembly narrowly passed the proposed budget at the last possible moment. Not only is the budget untenable to many, it relies on very shaky and unpopular “fixes” that may not pass muster in a special election in May.
But it is a budget. And it passed.
Tuolumne County considered and approved our own mid-year budget revisions yesterday based on previous projections – not on the approved state budget. Why? Because first of all, no one is yet sure how state programs will pass on revenues and cuts to local governments. We’re all making our best guesses and waiting for things to be worked out.
For now, our projections that revenues would further drop have been borne out, but we’ve made the necessary reductions to live within our means. Two people were laid off yesterday and an already low contingency fund is now gone. Further cuts will follow and without any contingency fund to fall back on, the next round will be more painful. But if you can believe it, we’re fortunate. Other local jurisdictions? Not so much – just watch the news.
The only “good” thing about the state budget is that it means money will once again start flowing to cities, counties, schools, and special districts. The California State Association of Counties said last week:
“California counties appreciate the action taken by the Legislature today to approve a budget that has a balanced approach. We know that there is much to dislike in this budget, including significant cuts in services. However, a budget resolution allows the state’s economy to begin to recover and eases the cash crisis that has crippled counties’ ability to provide vital federal- and state-mandated health and human services to people who desperately need them.
Like the state, California counties are in a fiscal crisis. Counties across the state are taking dramatic steps to resolve their budget shortfalls, while experiencing declining revenues and skyrocketing caseload increases. In addition, counties are not receiving nearly $270 million this month for social services due to payment delays by the state controller because of the state’s cash crisis. California counties appreciate the Legislature’s recognition that counties cannot sustain the demand for safety net services alone and that further delay in finding a budget resolution would drastically affect the people we serve.”
Learn more on what California counties are facing at: http://www.csac.counties.org/.
The budget adopted under duress by the Legislature is almost universally disliked by Republicans and Democrats. As proper analysis is done, we’ll find much more to dislike. Here in Tuolumne County and elsewhere in the state, we’ll readjust in April and readjust again in May after the election. More cuts are sure to come.
Unbelievably and as if none of this had happened, some members of the Legislature are already putting forward new bills to regulate lives, industries, and spend our money. Business as usual.
Something’s gotta change and if this keeps up, it very well may. We can only hope and pray.
The beat goes on…
Buchanan Road update
A project team from the Federal Highway Administration gave the Board an update on the timeline for improvements to Buchanan Road, a forest highway that winds from Tuolumne down into the Tuolumne River Canyon and beyond.
Why Buchanan Road? It’s been on the USFS’ list of forest roads for improvement for years. The list of problems includes too-narrow, poor drainage from road and ditches, steep grades, sharp curves, no guardrails in dicey spots, crumbling pavement, substandard sight distances, roadside hazards, landslide and slope stability issues, and a bridge they classify as functionally obsolete. Is that all?
The Federal Highway Administration team will consider a range of alternatives including no action. The project is being split into segments: the “urban” (through Tuolumne, canyon, Buchanan Mine Road bridge, and Fish Hatchery Road sections. They heard significant concern from local residents and this supervisor about plans to widen the road in Tuolumne. Consequently, they have revised the width in that section to “two 10-foot travel lanes, 2-foot shoulders, and concrete curbs.”
The team is in the process of completing the environmental analysis (expected to be released in late spring 2009). To keep current on what is being proposed and comment, visit the project website at www.cflhd.gov/buchanan or call Wendy Longley at (720)963-3394
Teri’s website and blog are published at no expense to the the public. Teri Murrison for Supervisor, FPPC#1314234