By Sen. Joel Anderson
Using their new majority powers, Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrat lawmakers have passed a state budget that snubs the public’s demand for reform, dumps more debt on local agencies and relies on phantom revenues.
During the Great Recession of the past three years, more than two million Californians have lost their jobs. Whole communities have been devastated by unemployment as companies are fleeing the state’s hellish business climate. Now more than ever, state government’s sole focus should be to help companies hire more people by getting out of the way.
History has proven that more private sector jobs create more tax revenue, providing more funds for schools, parks, roadways and every other public service. As President Kennedy would often say, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
However, instead of focusing on allowing companies to profit and grow, Democrat legislators are fixated on cutting services and rewarding special interest groups and wasteful bureaucrats. This is standard Sacramento behavior, ignoring those most in need while taking care of their cronies.
As an example, let’s look at education.
We all say our kids deserve the best schools we can provide, but some in Sacramento are only mouthing the words. For the last six months the Democrat-controlled Legislature knew the state was facing a massive shortfall, but instead of fixing the problem they raided the treasury to protect their allies, and then left our children’s education system on the verge of bankruptcy.
Even the most basic money-saving reforms, such as allowing local school districts to contract for landscaping, janitorial work and other non-teaching services, were cast aside. And worse, they sneaked in a bill at the last second that slams the door on any money-saving options for school districts.
Despite unified Republican efforts to stop more taxes from being piled upon struggling families, the Democrats’ budget includes a new annual fee for fire protection services in rural areas and a $12 increase to the car tax.
Again, rather than focusing on increasing jobs and eliminating waste, the governor and Democrat leaders cowardly took the easy way out by spending more of our money instead of fixing the problem.
But the Democrat legislators’ shame doesn’t stop there. They are also willing to imperil our families’ safety to protect their cronies. A key element of the new budget plan is something Gov. Brown calls “re-alignment,” a fancy word for shifting hardened criminals from state prisons into our county jails.
This plan is a high-risk scheme that not only moves criminals into our neighborhoods, it dumps a huge burden on local law enforcement with no guarantee that the state will pay the added cost. Just “bed costs” alone will jump from $44 to over $60 per day per inmate.
After three years of recession, you’d think the Democrat-held majority would empathize with families who are desperately trying to weather the storm. You’d expect, if not demand, that they adopt the same belt-tightening strategies we are suffering with, spending only when necessary, eliminating frills and focusing on what’s most important.
Unfortunately, the governor and Democrat legislators delivered a budget full of new costs and new risks for hard-working families. And regrettably, they excluded all the reforms that will get California back on the right track.
The Great Recession has been painful for California families. It’s now time for the Democrats who run our state government to stop lining the pockets of their allies and start putting Californians’ needs first.
Anderson, a Republican, represents portions of San Diego and Riverside counties, including Ramona, Poway and much of Rancho Bernardo. He is a member of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee.