January 13, 2008

Spending ourselves over a cliff

We recalled Gray Davis for this mess? Arnie is Democrat in republican clothing. People need to listen to what presidential candidate Ron Paul is saying. We are spending ourselves over the edge of a cliff. Once we go over thats it. It will make the housing crisis look like a hang nail. In a way I dont blame the State Legislature that much as most people run their own households the same way. Spend more than you make and get into as much debt as possible hoping you can ride the silly housing bubble before it bursts. This irresponsibility cause the sub prime meltdown. Well we all know the bubbles burst. But like Paul said we need to stop the boom and bust cycle and take some responsibility for our greed and spending. And dont think this Indian Casino scam on the ballot this February will save us. It will just encourage more irresponsibility. People just dont seem to care. They keep voting for these silly politicians (and propositions) then give the legislature a pass when these "crises" pop up "unexpectedly" (yeah right). You know as much as people say they care about their kids futures and making sure they have a better life than their parents, saddling their kids with debt is one sure way to make sure their future enslaves them to government for the "Sins of their Fathers".

Budget woes not inherent — governor creates them
Sunday, January 13, 2008
By Sen. Tom McClintock

Abraham Lincoln finally had enough of Stephen Douglas' obfuscations when they met to debate in Charleston, Ill. He said, "Judge Douglas is playing cuttlefish — a small species of fish that has no mode of defending himself when pursued except by throwing out a black fluid which makes the water so dark the enemy cannot see it, and thus it escapes."

Lincoln's cuttlefish story came to mind during the governor's State of the State message when he blamed the state's massive budget deficit on formulas that lock in spending. On the same day, a gubernatorial minion penned a column that claimed, "About 90 percent of the state's budget is tied to spending formulas, contracts and/or statutes, requiring spending to increase by specific amounts each year."

Behind that cloud of sophistry is a species of politician trying to escape responsibility for a budget crisis of his own making.

In fact, virtually all of the "formulas, contracts and/or statutes" can be suspended with the same two-thirds vote that is required to adopt the budget in the first place. Our budget crisis isn't because these politicians can't suspend these "mandates" — it's because they won't.

True, there are a few expenditures required by the state constitution. The state's annual debt payments can't be suspended, although less borrowing can reduce them in the future. Unfortunately, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's borrowing binge has increased our annual debt obligation from $2 billion in 2003 to more than $7 billion today.

The state's pension payments are contractual obligations that can't be suspended, but shrinking the public work force or reforming pensions for new hires can reduce future obligations. Unfortunately, under Schwarzenegger, the state employee rolls have grown at nearly twice the rate of population growth.

In addition, there is one ballot proposition that is beyond the control of the Legislature and the governor to suspend: Schwarzenegger's own "After School Program" that now consumes roughly a half-billion dollars each year.

Everything else can be suspended by the same vote that adopts the budget — including every statute on the books. Even most constitutional mandates provide for their own suspension. For example, Proposition 98, which "mandates" that nearly half of the budget must go to public schools, can be suspended by two-thirds vote. Not only did Schwarzenegger refuse to do so through the last three years of declining public school enrollment, he increased the Proposition 98 base — and, therefore, future budgets — by billions of dollars above what Proposition 98 called for. That is precisely why the governor is now forced to propose school cuts that are far deeper than would otherwise have been necessary.

Similarly, the state Legislature can force virtually any contract back to the bargaining table by refusing to fund it fully in the annual budget act. When Sen. Jackie Speier and I proposed doing so in 2004 in an attempt to bring state prison guard salaries under control, Schwarzenegger opposed it. Now, four years later, the governor proposes releasing 22,000 dangerous felons.

Perhaps the most telling point is simply this: When Senate Republicans desperately warned last summer that the budget was dangerously unbalanced and attempted to enact reforms to avert the crisis, Schwarzenegger campaigned against them.

When the budget was adopted in August, I warned on the Senate floor: "Today, we set in motion events that will require far more difficult and painful decisions starting just five months from now in what is likely to be a much worse economy . For the second time in a decade, this state is being driven to another Gray Davis-sized fiscal crisis."

The same day, the governor said: "I am pleased that the Legislature has passed a responsible budget that protects California's priorities and keeps our economy strong. It was a challenging process but, in the end, our legislative leaders came together to deliver a spending plan that does not raise taxes, creates the largest reserve in history and reduces our operating deficit after the spending vetoes that I have promised."

It's going to require more than a cloud of rhetorical ink to cover that escape.

— Sen. Tom McClintock represents the 19th Senate District in the state Legislature.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA
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