Californians are going through a tough time.
high inflation. severe drought. Rising crime. More and more homeless people. Wildfires increase. student learning loss. Shaky road. Disconnected supply chain crisis.
The list of crises in California continues to grow.
Yet the governor’s lack of urgency to address these pressing issues is frustrating.
State budgets are by far one of the most important responsibilities that governors and lawmakers convene each year. It determines and dictates the spending of valuable taxes and determines the outcome of key issues facing California.
State budgets must provide the necessary framework and investment to address California’s growing crisis.
With an estimated $68 billion budget surplus, the Governor and lawmakers have an opportunity to carefully prioritize taxpayer dollars and deliver measurable results in the short and long term.
However, what do we see from Governor Newsom’s budget proposal? Wrong priorities, unsustainable spending, and failure to focus on fundamental issues.
At a time when inflation is soaring, lawmakers must not only provide immediate relief, but also ease the tax burden of driving California households and businesses out of the state.
The governor and Sacramento Democrats failed to lead the way in suspending the annual gas tax increase that could have provided much-needed relief to Californians. They fail to acknowledge that the rising cost of living and rising tax burden are driving people to flee California.
Government inaction as Newsom and Sacramento Democrats is unacceptable. Their failure to act discreetly is tone-deaf and truly incredible.
Republicans are proposing to suspend the state’s 51-cent-a-gallon gas tax to immediately relieve the burden on gas stations. But Sacramento Democrats have used their supermajority to turn a legislative proposal to cut taxes into one that inexplicably raises them.
Californians have reason to be frustrated.
Unfortunately, Newsom’s proposed budget continues to focus on questionable spending — putting the state on an unsustainable path. Success cannot be based on money spent.
Californians need measurable and tangible results, which require reassessment, monitoring and review.
Recently, the independent Office of Legislative Analysis highlighted that the governor’s budget proposal is unsustainable because it exceeds the state’s spending cap, commonly known as the Gann cap: “Under the governor’s budget, the state is likely to face future, serious budget challenges. …the state needs to cut existing services to bring the budget back into balance,” the state’s financial experts warned in their March report.
The report also calls for greater oversight and savings to soften the blow for the most vulnerable residents. I totally agree.
With a short-term but large budget surplus, lawmakers must make the necessary one-time investments in:
• Programs and school infrastructure to help our students recover from learning loss
• Enforcement to restore accountability and ensure public safety
• Construction of new water storage projects
• Enhance proper forest management to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires
• Systems targeting mental illness and substance use disorders to reduce homelessness
• Ensure California’s globally competitive supply chain infrastructure
• Repair and construction of bridges and road infrastructure
Given the $68 billion budget surplus, these important issues can now be addressed. The Legislature could reject the governor’s overrun and provide the permanent tax relief Californians desperately need.
With the revisions to May’s budget, Governor Newsom must address California’s growing crisis and permanently cut taxes so families and workers can keep more of their hard-earned cash.
It’s time to get back to fundamentals: The nation must live within its means, stop reckless spending, ease tax burdens, and make the long-term one-time infrastructure investments necessary to drive our nation’s economic growth.
Vince Fong is the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Budget Committee.