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A Budget Is A Moral Document

I don't know who said this, but it's true: A budget is a moral document. It says what we as a society prioritize as important. Or not important.

Clearly, health care for poor children is not important in California, or not as important as it used to be. Governor Schwarzenegger slashed the Healthy Families insurance program that provides low-cost medical insurance for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medi-Cal and can't afford private medical insurance for their children.

Sure, I complain about furloughs, but I wouldn't want to wish on any parent the absence of medical insurance for a sick child. Especially if those same parents are donning the blue smiley-faced vest, the red bullseye, or the paper hat in efforts to make ends meet and keep a roof over their children's heads and food in their mouths.

But still no severance tax for big oil, when we're the only state in the union that doesn't have such a tax? You gotta wonder.

I'm not one of those foolhardy liberals who wants to tax everybody and spend on everything. I do, however, think we should have priorities -- stated priorities -- and plan our budget around those priorities, not around who's got the most juiced-up lobbyist prowling the halls of the Capitol or around ballot box budgeting, as priorities can and will change. And I think health care for the children of the working poor needs to be a priority.

So it's come to this. I don't know how we got here, and I don't see any visionaries stepping forward with a plan to get us out of here. All I know is that I want my state back.

California desperately needs a do-over. Or a makeover. Or both.

I hope Governor Schwarzenegger is having a wonderful birthday with his fully insured children.


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