Commentary on Governor Brown's Budget Proposal

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

California remains in a budget crisis, including an $8.2 billion deficit this year and a projected budget deficit of $17.2 billion for 2011-2012.  I am pleased that Governor Brown agrees that we need make cuts, and his proposal includes $12.5 billion in cuts.  While I feel that these cuts do not go far enough, this is a good start.

Voters in California rejected tax increases at the ballot two years ago and again last November.  Republicans see no reason to insult their intelligence by placing tax increases on the ballot once again.  Californians do not want to see the sales tax increase, or their personal income tax increase, or see their Vehicle License Fee increase.  They want to see California tighten its fiscal belt, get spending under control, and accomplish sustained budget reform, including smaller, fewer, more accountable state agencies.

While the idea to realign state and local responsibilities has merit, realignment usually means shifting the same state mandates with uncertain funding.  Additionally, we're hearing the cry to make it easier for local governments to raise local taxes. This is dumping the state's fiscal problems on local taxpayers without reforming or eliminating the programs.  The realignment plan also sends juvenile offenders and "nonviolent" offenders without prior convictions to be housed in county jails.  Most county jails currently are struggling to house local prisoners and local law enforcement has no means to provide rehabilitative services and supervision for these offenders. The result is early release, victimization of society and costly local prosecutions.

We need zero-based budgeting and a thorough review of the budgets of every government agency line-by-line.  This budget will be balanced only when our economy improves. This will only happen if we eliminate the multitude of tax disincentives for both individuals and businesses whose investments create and provide jobs. 

Even through a couple of tough budget years California government is still conducting business pretty much as usual (just name your least favorite agency). We must not forgo this opportunity to make government more efficient and accountable.  The governor seems sincere in his desire to act quickly and decisively. My colleagues in the Assembly Republican Caucus and I will work with the governor and our Democratic colleagues for real budget solutions.

More taxes, however, are not a solution we can support.