Conway & Huff: Dark of night budget deal sells out taxpayers

Posted: June 14, 2012 in CA Politics
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By Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway and Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff

The clock is ticking in the California State Capitol with the constitutional budget deadline looming this Friday.  But don’t count on your voices being heard at the State Capitol.

It’s business as usual for the majority party as they again shut out Californians from their plans to spend your money.  Democrat leaders are meeting behind closed doors to cobble together a multi-billion dollar spending plan.  Like you, the rest of Californians haven’t seen the budget either.  In all likelihood, we will only see the final product hours or even minutes before we are asked to vote on it.

Democrats Push No, No, No Budget: No jobs, no pensions, no spending cap

Democrats accuse Republicans of being the party of no, but what about their budget priorities?  From initial reports, the Democrat budget can best be described as the “No, No, No Budget.”  There are no jobs, no pension reforms, no spending cap anywhere in their budget agenda.

We sometimes feel like a broken record, but it’s worth repeating that the best way to increase revenues is by getting people back to work.  Democrats want more taxes, Republicans want more employed Californians.  According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, reducing unemployment by 2 percent generates more than $1 billion in tax revenue.

Pension reform is an important piece of the budget puzzle.  Just this week, CalPERS announced that its market value has declined 4.8 percent this year, meaning Californians will be on the hook for more to shore up public employee pensions.  Remember that every dollar we spend on pensions is a dollar we don’t have for education or public safety.  Republicans took the lead by introducing Gov. Brown’s 12 point pension plan verbatim.  But Democrats have effectively shelved the pension reform plan by the leader of their own party.

Ironically, Democrats and Republicans agreed in 2010 to put a spending cap on the ballot. The very next year, Democrats broke that compromise and pushed that spending cap to the 2014 ballot.  Californians shouldn’t count on seeing any spending restraint in this year’s budget either.

$16 Billion In Debt, Democrats Continue Spending

Despite a $16 billion deficit, revenues are expected to grow in the next fiscal year by $4.9 billion without the Governor’s tax increase.  As Republicans have said time and time again, the problem is spending. Under the Governor’s May Revision, total state spending will top $224.8 billion, up from $212.7 billion in the 2011-12 budget.

As Democrats continue growing government and increase spending, they do so at the expense of our classrooms, which they target for 99 percent of their trigger cuts.

Republicans are working to protect what matters most to Californians, such as a quality education for our children and safe communities.  Earlier this year, we joined together to put forward a budget roadmap which shows the Governor’s $8.5 billion in proposed taxes and painful trigger cuts to education are unnecessary. Apparently, the Governor must have liked what he saw, because he took several of our ideas, but instead of using those savings to protect our schools, he directed that money to grow government.

The difference is clear

Budgets always come down to a question of priorities and nowhere are the differences between the parties more different than when it comes to taxes and spending.

Democrats are pushing for higher taxes so they can spend more to increase the size and scope of government, reject vital reforms to get California moving again and fuel fast-growing programs Californians cannot afford.  Republicans want to invest in the priorities of working families like education and public safety, while protecting Californians from a massive tax increase that is simply unnecessary.  We want to end business as usual in state government and get Californians back to work.

As the Legislature races to beat the clock, it’s clear that the budget the majority party is crafting behind closed doors is another in a long series of sham budgets that will make our long-term budget problems worse and put Californians on the hook for years of irresponsible overspending.

Californians are not well served by the current budget charade going on behind closed doors at the State Capitol.  Sadly, Sacramento hasn’t gotten the message: It’s not the Legislature’s money. It’s the people’s money and you deserve to know how they are going to spend it.

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