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It's budget time 

Last year was tough, and this year isn’t looking any better. In fact, it’s looking kinda worse. So it’s with a bit of reluctance—but also a great deal of pride—that I introduce my 2010-11 budget. I’ve had to make some hard choices, but I truly believe in the end this budget addresses the structural deficits and willy-nilly spending that’s plagued us for too long. It was also written in about half an hour. It’s time to buckle down and make the unpopular choices.

• This budget calls for the elimination of all social welfare programs. Money from such programs will be placed in large canvas sacks emblazoned with green dollar signs, taken to the nearest homeless shelter by politicians adorned with top hats and coats with tails where said politicians will then empty the sacks and roll around in the money. I haven’t quite figured how this will close the deficit, but it seems to fit with the general spirit of how top officials try to make ends meet.

• This budget proposal creates a new committee to handle the SLO farmers market. This committee, named the Farmers’ Market Downtown Association, will include neither members of the Downtown Association nor the Farmers Market Association. After all, you wouldn’t let a dog lover run a pet store would you? No more than you’d pay a private organization to act as a public entity and condescend to its biggest moneymakers. The committee’s sole job shall be to not have unnecessarily long and childish squabbles over the farmers market. As part of the new committee’s charter, any disagreements lasting longer than a day will be punishable by verbal berating—“Quiet, you!”—and a smack to the back of the head. And maybe a poke in the eye. Whoop, whoop, whoop! Nyuk, nyuk.

• Part of the fines collected from SLO smokers will go into a fun-suppression fund. The remaining money will be allocated for the purchase of squirt guns to put out nasty cancer sticks wherever they pop up. Furthermore, police who patrol for smokers shall turn over their ego-enhancing Chargers for pink scooters equipped with bells and tassels.

• Now that 20-year KSBY vet Tony Cipolla is out in the wild, I’m appointing a formal hair stylist. Cipolla, who’s known just as much for keeping his hair in evenly spaced strands as he is for pronouncing hello like a cartoon cat walking into a room—“huh-lo!”—is going to need that quaff now more than ever. Qualifications for Mr. Cipolla’s stylist include combing and gelling his hair before he wakes up. He’s never seen a reflection of scruffy bed head, and facing such a mess would surely dim his perfected news-anchor smile. Rinse, brush, comb, gel, repeat, before the sun rises—or face the consequences.

I don’t know how this will save any money, either. In fact, I’ve had to make a lot of cuts in order to budget for such a position—sorry to the orphans, pregnant teens, mentally ill, paraplegics, elderly, and unemployed teachers I fired last year to keep Zac Efron’s hair in order. But if I don’t think of these things, who will?

• As a means of generating new revenue, I’ve implemented a stimulating citizen activism campaign. In short, people can perform one of a few public services and get paid. For instance: All Lotto scratcher ticket buyers will be given one free TV dinner. After banking most of my budget on “modernizing” the lottery system, I’ve had to come up with some way to get more people to buy tickets and justify my whacky scheme. In my defense, I was all hopped up on energy drinks and vitamin supplements when I thought of this and there’s no going back now.

• Registered voters who actually vote in any non-presidential election will be given free hugs.

• California legislators won’t be paid until they’ve passed a state budget. If the budget is an insane coagulation of financial shell games in need of new laws, etc, legislators shall be paid in Monopoly money until they fix the problem. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

• Following adoption of a rational, functional budget, legislators shall be paid only when bills they’ve authored pass both houses. Non-binding resolutions and proclamations of days in the name of fire-safety awareness, for example, don’t count.

• Politicians shall be taxed for talking too long.

• Politicians shall be taxed for repeating what their colleagues already said.

• The commemorative plaque given to Atascadero City Councilman and former member of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Tom O’Malley shall be ground to sawdust and dispersed on the floor of the nearest barbecue joint. Come to think of it, governments shall no longer handout plaques or resolutions. And organizations such as the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board shall rename themselves to avoid exorbitant printing and ink costs and obnoxious acronyms (it’s actually harder to say RWQCB).

• Since all six candidates for SLO County Sheriff answer questions with variations on the same answer, the candidates shall either share the position and divide the salary or the election shall be decided by several rounds of rock, paper, scissors. The first person to say “Stop using rock every time, Lenthall!” has to pay a penalty.

• Finally, the state will generate funds to fund any unfunded necessities by declaring a new special election and requiring the counties to pay for it up front. They’ll fork over the cash, because they have to. Just look at the dollars rushing in to fill the senator-shaped void left by now lieutenant governor Abel Maldonado. Once the counties sign the check, the election will be struck down and the money will go toward something else, like, oh, I dunno, pensions or something. ∆

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