Treasurer is thinking outside the budget box


State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has some suggestions for breaking California’s government gridlock.

How about two budgets? One for the liberal coast and another for the more conservative inland regions.

“We’ll have the budget for the coast that has tax increases and services,” Lockyer said Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview with Times reporters. “And in a bunch of other areas in Central and Southern California that don’t have tax increases . . . their public schools are closed a month of the year -- and see what happens.”


The Democrat, a former attorney general and state Senate leader, called his idea a “genuine thought.”

“If people in Orange County aren’t going to vote for a state budget, I don’t know why you shouldn’t sell [UC Irvine] to Google,” he said wryly. “Why is there a DMV office in Riverside? Those folks ought to figure out how to go to L.A. at night to renew their driver’s license.”

Lockyer said he believed the budget impasse was far from over. Democrats, he said, may recoil from the governor’s hard-line negotiating tactics by disengaging, leading to a government shutdown -- a prospect that might leave some Republicans “gleeful.”

The treasurer suggested a mediator -- perhaps former Secretary of State George Shultz -- to bring the parties together.

“We have an institutional breakdown,” he said, “and a failure of our fundamental institutions, and a failure of the governor and the Legislature.”