The latest round of state budget cuts will be heartbreaking. Things we value as a society – education, children’s services, care for the elderly and the disabled, health care, parks, hometown government – will be devastated, and not for the first time.

Over the last several months, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature might have found time to work out a plan that set priorities, cut back on bureaucracy and limited the damage to the most critical public programs.

But they chose instead to hide their eyes and hope that revenues would turn around. That way, they would be spared the hard choices.

As Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, told Staff Writer Derek Moore today, waiting around for revenues to stop falling was “not a valid strategy.” Read Moore’s report here.

When State Controller John Chiang reported last week that April tax revenues were $3.6 billion below expectations, the ongoing state budget crisis was back in the news.

But it never went away. Since January, the governor and legislature have known that they face a shortfall of at least $20 billion – and they did nothing.

On Friday, Schwarzenegger will release the “May revise,” the latest version of his 2010-2011 budget proposal. We will hate everything about it.

And every line, every spending cut, will be a testimony to a failure of leadership. California is in trouble because its government is dysfunctional.

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