In debt we trust*
Good news for Republicans: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be asking for a 10 percent across-the-board spending cut to close a yawning budget gap predicted by his financial advisers.
The Democrats, having put off tough choices year after year, will now have to decide whether they want to push for higher spending in an election year (which will fail because of the Republican minority), shift more expenses to bonds (which will make them look as bad as Schwarzenegger did in 2005), or negotiate for a smaller but still substantial cut in services (which will make all of their proposals for new programs, including health care, look financially risky).
Whatever they do, redistricting will keep them safely in their seats.
However, they will have a harder time attracting votes for the Democratic term-limit initiative if they get into a protracted budget battle.
Schwarzenegger predicts a $14 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year, while the Legislative Analyst's Office predicts $9.8 billion. The Dems will latch on to the smaller of the two numbers, but it's still a chunk of money.
I hear cities and counties are bracing for another raid.
*The Sacramento Bee says Senate Pro Tem Don Perata has put health care reform on the back-burner. That seems an odd negotiating tactic to me.