With budget negotiators at a loggerheads and California government facing a cash crisis, the state controller's office will start printing IOUs this afternoon for the first time in 17 years.
The presses are set to start at 2 p.m., churning out 28,742 IOUs worth $53.3 million that will be dispatched mostly to residents throughout the state still awaiting their income-tax refunds.
At the very least, if an employee brings one of these "Governator Owes You" notes to work, the employer should cease state income tax withholding for that employee, cut a full paycheck until the amount is covered, and send Sacramento the IOU in lieu of withholding receipts.
Another option would be for those owed tax refunds to get together, pool their IOUs, and sell them for a portion of face value to, say, Peter Milano or Frank "Skinny" Velotta. A few broken legs ("I fell down the stairs -- really, I did!") in the Senate and an unexplained disappearance or two in the Assembly would probably clear the matter right up.
Full-scale tax revolt would be better, though. Imagine if next week, instead of checks and wire transfers from California employers representing all that state income tax withholding, Sacramento got a boatload of notices: "When you get your act together, let us know; at that point we'll re-evaluate your credit rating and consider sending you money again. Maybe."