(Originally posted at The Press-Enterprise)


Another California budget cycle has come and gone. As with each of the budgets from the past decade or so, questions abound. Is it really balanced? Are the revenue estimates real? Will there need to be revisions in the months ahead?

The short answers to those questions are that it is not really balanced because it relies on unlikely revenues and, yes, we will be revisiting the budget this fall. More important, this budget contains no meaningful reforms. Beyond that, this governor has no plan to bring jobs to this state. As a result, not only will we be in a bad place this fall — next year promises more of the same.

As you consider the budget, here are three things for you to know:

First, as we look at the budget process, it is very clear that Prop. 25, which allowed for majority vote, Democrat-only budgets, has not been good for the state. Prop. 25 said that if a budget was not passed on time, legislators would not be paid. No honest observer can say that a real budget was passed on time — even though the Democrats can pass a budget without so much as consulting Republicans.

Indeed, the budget that was “passed” on the last possible day was nothing more than a shell game vote. It offered no “real” numbers or legislative language — just a vote so that legislators could get paid. The real work on the budget was left for after the deadline.

So much for Prop. 25 masquerading as real reform.

Second, this budget is not a balanced budget; it is a contingent budget. So-called “balance” is achieved by relying on voters to pass a tax increase this fall. Voters, however, have turned down the last eight statewide tax increases and they will turn down the tax increases on the ballot this fall just as they turned down the Prop. 29 tax increase in June.

What will happen then? The budget calls for automatic cuts to programs.

The programs facing those cuts will be used politically by Gov. Jerry Brown to scare voters into tax increases this fall — i.e. if you don’t pass this tax increase, we have to cut education, parks, public safety, etc. Everyone in Sacramento knows, however, that those automatic budget cuts, as they are currently formulated, will not actually be made. When push comes to shove, those cuts will be revised.

In other words, the current budget is not and never was meant to be the real budget. It is a political document Brown and the Democrat leaders will use to push tax increases.

Third, this budget contains no meaningful reforms. Despite 18 months of holding strong majorities in the Senate and the Assembly and the governorship, the Democrats in Sacramento did not sit down to analyze actual programs and recommend savings in any meaningful way. Indeed, Brown and the public employee unions are working to “insource” jobs currently done by private contractors — thereby adding to the state payroll and pension problems. Thus, despite massive losses in the private sector jobs needed to support government jobs, our state payroll is greater than when Brown took office.

In short, this budget actually increases the size of government. Indeed, Brown’s budget calls for a 28.8 percent growth in spending between now and the end of 2016. That’s why Brown wants to raise taxes.

All of the above adds up to yet another sham budget instead of real reform. It also means this tired play will be back for another showing this fall and next year.

Polling already shows voters are unhappy with the automatic cuts and they are also unhappy with spending on high speed rail. Given the failure of the Democrat majority to produce a meaningful budget, isn’t time we have a new majority in Sacramento?

Thomas Del Beccaro is chairman of the California Republican Party.


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