Assemblyman Hagman discusses California’s current budget crisis
Weeks have passed since the beginning of the 2010-11 fiscal year to pass a state budget. Yet California is still without one and people are right to ask what on earth is going on in Sacramento.
Months before the budget deadline, my Republican colleagues and I called on Democrats to work with us. We posted 100-day countdown calendars on our office doors as a reminder that the deadline was fast approaching and urged them to work with us so we would have a solution in time.
Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership rebuffed our hand of cooperation. They instead said that they would rather delay the budget process until Republicans agree to raise your taxes and reject spending reductions.
Some political observers even said that the delay could be a ploy to convince Californians that the two-thirds requirement to pass a budget was the main cause of the delay. One liberal Democrat went so far to say that his party should allow the state to reach a more desperate situation when kids go back to school in August to get Republicans to sign off on higher taxes.
In the meantime, I have been meeting with constituents and stakeholders to listen to their budget concerns. We discussed ways we can address those concerns in a difficult economy and conveyed their suggestions to my colleagues. Yet we have seen no real action from Democrats, other than press conferences to pound home the theme that the state “needs more revenue “(code for higher taxes) to protect government spending and welfare programs we cannot afford.
Even more telling, we have not seen a unified and detailed budget proposal from Senate and Assembly Democrats that can be vetted. All they have put forward is a “statement of principles” that reaffirms their commitment to big government. A statement of principles is not a serious budget that will close a $19.1 billion deficit.
As a result, without a balanced budget in place California state government spends $52 million more each day than it receives in revenues.
In contrast, my Republican colleagues and I have made it clear that we support the Governor’s budget blueprint he released in May. It is a detailed plan that addresses the deficit without higher taxes.
Republicans have always been willing to work with Democrats to craft a bipartisan budget that protects taxpayers and funds essential services such as schools without raising taxes. We know that tough choices will need to be made to reduce spending, which is why we have asked Democrats for months to work with us.
Yet the Democrat leadership shows no signs of urgency and refuses to budge, hoping that weeks of delay will work to their advantage. We must get down to work on the budget now, so we can get California back on track. It is long overdue for Democrats to work with Republicans on passing a responsible no-tax budget that will move our state forward. A delay may serve the interests of a few liberal politicians and interest groups, but it hurts the state as a whole.
Passing a balanced budget is one of the most important – if not the most important – duty of a legislator. We are elected to make tough choices and I stand ready to do my part to craft a responsible, no-tax budget as soon as possible.