Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presented his $83 billion 2009-2010 budget last week. This budget is based on hope and
The hope is for economic recovery and for nearly $7 billion in help from Washington. The hard choices
are more cuts in government spending. Almost every
part of government will experience additional cuts
with the exception of higher education that receives
a slight increase.
I agree with the Governor that the Legislature must
act with great urgency to bring our current year budget
into balance. Our budget problems are so severe that
we cannot afford to wait to make the honest budget
choices required to get our state’s finances back on track.
Also, it is imprudent, at best, to believe that California
will receive any meaningful support from Washington
for legitimate federal expenses born by the state,
such as those associated with the incarceration of
criminal illegal aliens in our prisons. It’s critical that we get to work immediately to address
$21 billion in deficits this year and next through a mixture
of cuts, efficiencies and reforms.
The long-term solution to this crisis is to remove governmental
barriers to economic growth and make California job
creation the state’s number one goal.
Though there is no joy in such times there is opportunity
-- opportunity to rein in decades of profligate spending
and an unbridled growth of bureaucratic control over
our lives. Progress has been made. In the last year,
as a member and vice chair of the appropriations and
budget committees, I played a part in trimming some
$30 billion from a $100 billion budget.
Hard choices were made and even an agency (Integrated Waste Management Board) was seriously down graded. K-12 Education funding remained a priority though not the
blank check some always demand, and some long needed
reforms like giving local school districts more flexibility
with expensive, categorically funded programs were
The mass early release of unrehabilitated inmates was
averted and the citizens clearly affirmed, by their
statewide vote May 19th, 2009, they were not at all interested in new tax increases.
Republicans believe that raising taxes to "fix" California’s budget mess only funds what is broken and encourages
New taxes are never the answer to California’s budget woes. In fact, increasing the tax burden on
California businesses and families will simply ensure
more job losses. With the statewide unemployment rate
exceeding 12%, it is essential that the Legislature make bold, free
market reforms a central component of this year’s budget process.
While most of the budget focus has been on taxes and
spending, the long term answer to our budget plight
is reviving the economy. Stimulating business by creating
investment incentives, removing egregious disincentives,
like the excessive regulations of the Air Resources
Board and the Water Resources Control Board, educating
and training our workforce, all are critical to achieving
and sustaining economic recovery and adequate revenue
to state and local government.
We must also enact meaningful budget process reforms
such as a 2 year budget, more transparency in the budget process,
a more accurate assessment of long term liabilities
and expenditures, and minimizing budget busting litigation
opportunities hidden within the reams of complicated
budget language. Bottom line: realistic budgeting must not rely on "pie in the sky"
hope, nor phantom revenues and gimmicks.
Reigning in the excessive spending and regulation by
state government will require an entirely new level
of discipline by this Legislature and a renewed commitment
to reform well into the future. It will require a deliberative
and open budget process that respects institutional
traditions and rules.
Republicans are steadfast in our belief that the path
to a fiscally conservative, balance budget is to get
government out of the way – allowing the creative, entrepreneurial energy of California’s people to ignite a statewide economic recovery.
With the continued confidence of the citizens of the
2nd Assembly District as the wind beneath my wings, I
will work with all of my legislative colleagues to
fight to restore California’s economy and return fiscal responsibility to our government.