As California’s economy struggles to recover from the Great Recession, the state treasury received $5.6 billion more than state financial experts expected, largely due to the Proposition 30 tax increases. The Governor called these unanticipated monies a surplus in Wednesday’s State of the State Address.
“While I applaud the Governor for his encouragement of fiscal discipline, today’s speech should be consistent with the budget he proposed,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber). In presenting his budget to the Legislature a week ago, the Governor allocated money to pay off a mere fraction of the massive $355 billion ‘wall of debt.’”
When the Governor stated that the Legislature should spend with "great prudence" and then continues to pursue building the unaffordable High Speed Rail and the peripheral tunnels under the Delta, it undermines his advocacy for spending restraint.
Nielsen, experienced in budget issues, argued that before these monies are spent on new programs, the state must pay down its debt and grow the economy.
Citing the state’s high unemployment rate – 8.5 percent compared to the nation’s rate of 6.7 percent, Nielsen said, “Our state’s economy is not recovering like the rest of the country. Approximately 1.6 million people are without jobs, and more continue to drop out of the state's workforce."
“We must address the need to create more jobs for Californians who want to work.”
Wednesday also marked another milestone for the region. It is the 46th day in a row without rain during the normal rainy season. The state has not experienced these record dry conditions since 1884.
“California will continue to experience cyclical drought years. Conservation alone won’t solve our state’s water problems – and it hasn’t for decades now. Conservation alone cannot sustain our state’s economy,” Nielsen said.
“We need above ground water storage, period.”
The speech lasted 17 minutes and consisted of 2,085 words. It was long on hope and short on particulars especially when referring to realignment – a failed public safety experiment that transferred state prisoners to county jails.
“The Governor also didn’t address the unrehabilitated felons now in our communities. What should the government do with these criminals? These are critical policy issues that impact Californians. As the executive of the state, the Governor should have given us specific details of his plans to increase jail and prison space to house these repeat offenders under the terms ordered by federal court decisions."