As we approach Thursday’s beginning of a new fiscal year in California one thing is clear, lawmakers will not reach a budget agreement on time yet again. In fact, legislators will be heading home at the end of the week for summer recess without a budget. The good news – legislators won’t fruitlessly be sitting around Sacramento and collecting their $142 per day allowance with no budget to vote on.
The two Democratic caucuses have each laid out a budget plan, both calling for higher taxes. Legislative Republicans are backing Governor Schwarzenegger’s tax hike-free budget that makes tough but necessary cuts.
In a presser yesterday afternoon touting Assembly Democrats’ budget proposal, Speaker John Perez (D-L.A.) placed blame for the impasse on the state’s 2/3rds supermajority vote requirement to pass a budget and ridiculed it irrational. Here Perez completely misses the point. It’s one thing if he wants to do away with the 2/3rds requirement to pass a budget – fine – but that still wouldn’t allow his tax hike-laden budget to overcome the supermajority requirement to raise taxes, which 16 other states also have in place. It’s a little hard to argue that the solution to California’s overspending problem is to make it easier to raise taxes in a state with already one of the most onerous tax burdens in the nation. The fact is that this taxpayer safeguard is the only thing that has prevented Democrats from completely opening the tax hike floodgates on Californians.
Assembly Democrats’ budget proposal relies on a new tax on energy and securitization of the beverage recycling fee. However that doesn’t come close meeting the revenue required for their spending wish list. There they want to make up the difference with more borrowing. It is because of such economically illiterate leadership in Sacramento that JP Morgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon recently warned investors that he is more concerned about California defaulting than Greece, or that CMA has listed California alongside Iraq, Venezuela, and Pakistan as governments with the highest sovereign debt default risk.
What is – to use Speaker Perez’s own words – irrational is the fact that despite a $19.1 billion “deficit,” Perez and his colleagues have spent the past few weeks debating things like changing the state rock, dubbing June 14-20 California Golf Week, banning plastic bags, and in a move that will surely warrant a strongly worded letter from the Salahis, taking up legislation that would criminalize crashing the Oscars and other black tie events.
It is unfortunate and troubling that a state that used to be the economic engine of the nation (that title now belongs to Texas) has sunk to such depths by following the model that Reid, Pelosi, and Obama are busy implementing in Washington. In the following video, Republican Assembly Leader Martin Garrick (R-San Diego) explains just how California Democrats are fiddling while Sacramento burns: