Debra J. Saunders

Except that he relied on so many gimmicks to cook the books while in office that only real cuts are left. Or so I thought, until I heard Schwarzenegger say, "Today, almost 11 percent (of the General Fund) goes to prisons and only 7.5 percent goes to higher education." This was news to me, as the Legislative Analyst's Office 2009-2010 budget reported that the annual prison budget was $9 billion, while the higher education budget was more than $31 billion -- with $10.5 billion from the general fund. In order to reach Schwarzenegger's numbers, you also have to ignore the community college budget and fees.

Schwarzenegger talked of privatizing prisons -- a battle I can't see him finishing; last year, he signed a bill to improve the parole system.

Then Schwarzenegger really went wrong: He is now proposing a ballot measure to introduce yet another state spending formula -- the very mechanism that has made it nearly impossible to balance the budget -- to mandate that 10 percent of state funds go to higher education, but 7 percent to prisons.

Once again, even though his proposal will make it harder to govern, Schwarzenegger is looking for a piece of paper to do his dirty work. Sigh. What a wasted, squandered, missed opportunity.

Debra J. Saunders

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