Clock ticking, lawmakers still bickering

California's state lawmakers aren't proving to be very effective these days, but they are remarkably consistent.

Lawmakers turned down (yet) another budget plan this week and then added an exclamation point to the exercise by rejecting stopgap measures to fund a host of critical programs while the impasse grows deeper.

For those keeping score at home, it will be day 73 without a budget, shattering all records of fiscal irresponsibility before it. And now that the state prison guards' union has decided to engage in a needless sideshow by using the budget stalemate as a reason to recall Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, things are starting to look really colorful. A real kaleidoscope of dysfunctionality.

While accounts of the number of state vendors and critical-care service providers marching toward bankruptcy have continued to increase, lawmakers have continued to stick to their ideological guns. Republican legislators in both houses have asked the governor and Democrats to approve emergency funding for some programs that haven't received money for more than two months. And yet the Democratic majority in the Assembly and Senate rejected that proposal on consecutive days this week.

The reason? Democratic leaders say it will only add to the state debt. But hey, at this point, what's a billion dollars between friends?

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