If you talk to any conservative candidate over the last ten years in California, you might hear the words “I told you so”, “We warned them”, or “I informed them thusly” when it comes to the California state budget problem. What started this year as a projected budget shortfall of $9.2 billion, now looks like it will be around $16 billion hole.
With Governor Jerry Brown’s back against the wall, he will need to do what Republicans have been advocating for years — reform spending and cut waste. In a recent video released by the Governor’s office, Jerry Brown is sounding more like a Republican when he talks about spending cuts and fiscal reform, but holds true to his liberal roots but talking about sales tax and income tax increases.
With a state legislature that is dominated by Democrats, little blame can be placed on Republicans as this budget problem is lies with those that dominate the state assembly, senate and governorship. On a positive note, the budge shortfall has a much bleaker outlook two years prior when Californians were looking at around a $26 billion dollar shortfall.
California is struggling to keep tax revenue up, companies from relocating out of the state, and out of control spending in check. If this isn’t resolved, California’s prospects won’t be sustainable in the long run.
At the same time, the deficit projections — which have been increasing since Mr. Brown and the Democratic-controlled Legislature approved a budget last summer — suggest that the state may have been overly optimistic in estimating what kind of revenue it would take in. That has been a repeated problem in Sacramento as officials have struggled over the past five years with the state’s worst financial crisis since the Depression. Mr. Brown, in taking office last year, pledged to end what he said were the tricks lawmakers regularly used to paper over budget shortfalls.
If we want to jump start California’s future, we need to look beyond fiscal reforms, we need to audit every program in the state budget and make sure our tax dollars are being well spent. We need to look at our education system and do more than just throw money at a state that is ranked 47 out of 50 for academics and look for ways to improve test scores, accountability, and progress.