April 1, 2009

California Budget Crisis Solved

In a surprising move today, Governor Schwarzenegger has announced that California's budget crisis has been solved. There are three parts to this solution, which surprisingly enjoys strong bipartisan support, in part because it permits room to reduce the sales tax to its former levels and in part because no one in Sacramento likes Ohio.

First, all of the prisons in the state are going to be sold to private companies. Prisoners facing second and third strikes will now be sent via a ferry to the Farallon Islands, each carrying a backpack full of food, a disassembled cot, and one set of warm winter clothes. The new Farallon prison facility will represent restricted air and sea space, but otherwise will be unmanned and unpatrolled. Parole hearings are not expected to be particularly problematic. Prisoners will have to form a society of their own and learn rules of survival. What's more, the islands willbe embedded with webcams and producers from ABC have paid a substantial sum for the right to produce a reality TV show from the footage thus obtained, tentatively called "Shark Island Prison Blues" about what happens. The investors are believed to be "businessmen" of some sort from northwestern Mexico, who seek secure and remote locations for their operations; while the Attorney General has suggested that perhaps a more careful look into the future business activities to be conducted in the former prisons would be worthwhile, the Governor's office has spiked the idea, saying "Don't look ze gift horse in ze mouth."

Second, the eastern third of San Bernardino County will be leased to Nevada. The cost of the lease is being underwritten by a consortium of gaming companies led by Caesar's World, Inc., Circus Circus Properties, and Wynn Casinos. By 2019, Las Vegas Boulevard is expected to extend as far west as Baker and tourists and gamblers will have a substantially less arduous drive to reach glamorous casinos, massive outlet malls, and rows of gentleman's clubs. The terms of the lease are for 25% of the casino profits, with a sliding-scale payment floor based on competitve revenues realized by the California Lottery.

Third and finally, Gov. Schwarzenegger has announced that he has concluded a deal with Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio. If the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA finals, all of Ohio's federal bailout money will be diverted to California. When asked what will happen if the Lakers lose, Gov. Schwarzenegger said "No vay ve lose. Yah, LeBron keeps his head in ze clutch but who else do zey got? Mo Villiams? Please. Ve got Fisher, und Gasol, und Odom. It von't be all Kobe und LeBron, all ze time!" Some Bay Area Democrats are concerned about the absence of a provision in the deal for what happens in Boston or Orlando make it to the finals instead of Cleveland, but Gov. Schwarzenegger assured the Legislature that contingency deals along similar lines can be made with Govs. Patrick or Crist, as may be necessary.

Just kidding. In reality, no one in Sacramento has a clue. Sales taxes go up today, and that's no joke. Happy April Fools Day.

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