Assemblyman Hagman discusses the Democrats’ faulty plan to balance the state budget through tax increases
The California legislature saw its shadow and now the budget is in chaos again. The Democrats, who control the legislature, state that education and public safety will wither unless their proposed tax increases are adopted. These scare tactics had an impact on us several years ago when the Democratic legislature opted to “temporarily” increase taxes to prevent this onslaught of anarchy. Those increases did not solve our problems because nothing was structurally changed within California’s budget.
The past is repeating itself. The tough decisions were rolled down the road and now we must deal with it again. With California facing a $26.6 billion budget deficit, Sacramento has no choice but to cut spending and make meaningful reforms to prevent another fiscal disaster.
Unfortunately, the Democrats rammed through a series of budget bills that contained more of the same gimmicks, borrowing, fund shifts and delays that got California into this budget mess in the first place. While the budget bills voted on recently contained some modest savings to reduce the deficit, their plan actually increases spending by 31% over three years. They even rejected $1.7 billion of Governor Brown’s proposed cuts to welfare and social services programs, hoping that Californians will someday approve $55 billion in higher taxes on themselves.
Democrats claimed their plan is a “balanced” approach of cuts and taxes. However, the cuts in their plan last for only one year, while the taxes they seek would be on the books for five years. Any time you see the word “temporary” your mind should read “permanent” based upon past actions. In addition, many of their cuts come from what is called “realignment,” where the state shifts some responsibilities to local governments.
In practice, it could jeopardize public safety in my district and communities across the state. For example, 68,000 felons who would have previously served time in state prison would be transferred to crowded local jails and subject to early release. Releasing criminals before they have served their time is a recipe for disaster.
The most glaring aspect of the Democrat budget is the absence of reform. Instead of more taxes why not implement pension reform…and a spending cap…and a reduction of business regulations through pro-jobs reforms. On pensions, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has reported that state pension costs have grown from $1.4 billion to $6 billion over the past decade. By comparison, we will spend $9.8 billion on higher education this year.
Without reform, lawmakers may soon be forced to choose between bloated pensions and our children’s future. With a spending cap Republicans want spending to increase no faster than the rate of inflation and population growth, with extra money going primarily to reserves and debt repayment.
Finally, if we make it easier for job creators to invest in our state, we will see more companies hiring more people, which would lead to more tax revenues to adequately fund priorities such as education. That is what pro-jobs reforms will bring to California. In contrast, higher taxes will make it less likely for employers to invest in California.
Sadly, Democrats have chosen to move forward with their budget which will lead to more deficits. That is why I will continue to fight for serious budget solutions that will end the failed status quo. We simply cannot afford to continue the taxing, shifting and deferring of previous years deficits that have led to our existing dilemma.