Growing deficit shows Legislature must stop overspending

For too long, the Legislature has failed to get spending under control. Every year, we spend more money than the state brings in, putting California further into debt. It has to stop.

This year is no exception. Despite the fact that state tax revenue is higher than expected, California still is spending more than we are bringing in. You don’t need to know advanced math to understand that when we spend more money than we take in, our budget deficit will grow even higher.

I believe it’s time the Legislature got serious about holding the line on expanding or creating new programs and started looking at where we can make cuts. We must take steps to stop the out-of-control spending that has made our long-term budget problems worse and craft an honest and realistic state budget that fulfills the priorities shared by California families, not Sacramento politicians.

Recently, the governor unveiled the May revision of his state budget proposal. Even though the governor has taken steps to reduce the size of the deficit, California’s budget would still have a $1.5 billion operating deficit if we passed the May Revise today. That means we would spend, at a minimum, $1.5 billion more than we are bringing in. This must stop.

The majority doesn’t want to rein in spending at all. They are seemingly content to let California’s long-term budget problems spiral out of control rather than take the difficult but necessary steps to get our financial house in order. The ink wasn’t even dry on the May Revise before they went on the attack, calling the governor’s plan “mean-spirited,” even though annual spending will grow under his approach.

To the contrary, they all but announced that they intend to reject the governor’s proposed spending cuts and grow California’s deficit in the process. In the subcommittee process, the Democrats rejected many of the proposed solutions and grew the operating deficit to $2.7 billion.

The silence from the majority party is deafening when it comes to finding responsible alternatives to balancing the budget. However, taxpayers shouldn’t be surprised by their reckless attitudes on spending other people’s money. After all, excessive spending by the majority party caused our long-term budget problems in the first place.

One thing is clear: We will not raise taxes to pay for poor spending choices. With California’s economy leveling out and our state’s housing market facing an uncertain future, it would be a mistake to raise taxes on hard-working Californians at a time when every penny counts. Our budget deficit was not caused by lack of revenue but rather a lack of resolve to keep spending under control. It is time to add reforms that will guarantee a balanced budget.

The Legislature should plan our state budget much like you plan your family budget: prioritizing where the money is spent, while saving for the future. The only way to balance the budget and eliminate the deficit is to get spending under control and put money aside in a prudent reserve.

We cannot let California continue down this irresponsible path toward fiscal ruin. Assembly Republicans stand ready to work with our colleagues to take the necessary steps to right our economic course and balance the budget.

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