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CA budget near: students and sunbathers beware!

I have never been a “conspiracy theorist,” and one of the advantages of a scientific bent and a scientific education is that it becomes easier to distinguish between causality and coincidence.

When a traffic light turns green, some, but not all :-) of the events happening at that moment in the world are related to the changing of the signal.

At the same time, I tend to look for interrelationships among human events.

TV news last night with the “Big 5” folks involved with budget negotiations in Sacramento announced a compromise that was reached yesterday that closes the $26.3 billion budget gap. The proposed budget, which still has to be ratified by the California Legislature (Note added July 26, 2009: Done.), involves massive and severe cuts, some borrowing, and no new taxes. I include a link to the definition of “compromise” here, in case any state legislators need to refer to it in the future. :-) Since ratification is not likely to occur before Thursday, and since budget negotiations are always so volatile, even TV news reserved judgment UNTIL RATIFICATION ACTUALLY HAPPENS. We are all holding our collective breath.

Local governments will lose $2 billion to the state, with a promise of repayment if the financial situation improves. The University of California system will lose $2 billion. The public school system will lose an additional $9.5 billion, including thousands of teachers and staff. Tens of thousands of seniors and children will lose access to health care.

(Note added July 26, 2009: All of the numbers above were from a “pre-budget approval” news article, so the final numbers might have turned out differently. I’ll leave in the definition of “compromise” link, since CA legislators will no doubt need it in the future.)

So, coincidentally, what else is going on?

The California State University system, which raised tuition 10% recently, will seek to raise tuition an additional 20% (I think that this amounts to >30% total, like compound interest) and cut enrollment by 10%! Have a couple of generations of college-educated people from the middle class and working class upset the class system and social structure so much that we must make it financially impossible for such students to attend college?

Another interesting story from last night’s news: Effective immediately, officials CAN enforce a ban on nude sunbathing and “skinny-dipping” at any state beach, although officers will decide whether to warn, cite, or arrest violators, according to Roy Stearns, spokesman for the state Parks and Recreation Department. The ban will not affect federal beaches, like North Baker Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, or private areas, but will affect state areas like Gray Whale Cove on the Peninsula and Redrock Beach in Marin County, according to the article.

Lawyers for the Naturist Action Committee, which sued unsuccessfully to preserve a clothing-optional zone on San Onofre Beach in Orange County, said they would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court and lobby the Parks and Recreation Department to exercise its long-unused authority to designate areas where nudism is permitted.

Allen Baylis, an attorney and officer of the committee, said that a typical fine for the misdemeanor violation is $500.

Hmmmmm…. It looks just a little bit like the reversal of a 30-year practice with regard to nude sunbathing, only on state beaches (with state fines) and severe financial pressure on students of all ages, coincide with California’s financial meltdown.

(I remember, as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, an attempt by the Wisconsin State Legislature to remove out-of-state tuition waivers for graduate students as the result of the fantastic belief of some legislators that graduate students [even those with families of their own!] were being financially supported by THEIR PARENTS!) :-) Just amazing!

(Note added July 26, 2009: Another thought: Will many of the STATE beaches be among the up-to-50 state parks that will be closed after Labor Day? California has increasing made “ocean-front property” into state-owned areas for reasons of conservation. Will these areas be closed to U.S. and international visitors during some of our best “beach weather” in September and October? What about the missed revenue? Will people who venture onto the beaches to avoid HOT interior temperatures be fined or arrested for trespassing? Who will be left on the state’s payroll to fine or arrest them? :-) Will local governments, with budgets pillaged by the state, have to take up the slack? :-) It is plain to see that the ramifications of California’s new state budget have yet to be worked out. As with much of government, there is often more “flying by the seat of one’s pants” than actual planning. This is perhaps even more true of the cuts in health care and education. I am glad that my own kids are through school and sorry for the people whose kids are not. Governments, like corporations, are often run by people who LIKE to run things, whether they are GOOD at running things or not!)

I am watching the news closely to see what other groups of poor or defenseless Californians are hurt by the budget, while California’s rich and powerful scramble to protect their own assets.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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