In early January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his budget blueprint for the year ahead, beginning a very complex debate as we work to craft a balanced budget.
Thanks to the governor’s strong leadership, California has made progress in reducing the size and severity of our fiscal problems. By embracing pro-growth economic policies and holding the line on taxes, we increased revenue dramatically and made it easier to reach budget consensus.
Last year, we had a golden opportunity to pay off California’s long-term budget deficit with an unexpected increase in revenue flowing into the state treasury. Unfortunately, lawmakers let that opportunity slip away by continuing to increase spending and pushing off tough decisions until this year.
While we should be encouraged by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s forecast of a larger than expected $3.1 billion budget reserve this year, next year’s projected $5.5 billion shortfall and large future deficits are warning signs of danger ahead. Even more challenging, next year we will face a decline in the housing market, modest projected economic growth and a looming prison crisis.
California today stands at a fiscal crossroads. In crafting next year’s budget, will we do the responsible thing and implement fiscally prudent policies that eliminate the structural deficit, or will we return to the overspending of the past that caused California’s budget mess?
Assembly Republicans will pursue the fiscally responsible course, championing sound budget policies that embrace fiscal discipline and economic growth, not runaway spending and additional borrowing.
While many issues will dominate the agenda in Sacramento next year, Republicans will urge our colleagues to do the right thing and will resist the temptation to implement costly new government programs that we simply cannot afford.
Republicans believe we can better prioritize spending to meet the people’s needs while protecting important services the people of California expect. We must have the courage to ignore the costly priorities of special interests, and reject the demands by politicians for pork projects in their districts.
Key to solving our budget problems is a growing economy. Republicans will advocate for policies that encourage businesses to grow in our state, create jobs and provide opportunities for more Californians. Now is not the time to impose costly mandates that may threaten job growth and reduce tax revenue.
Assembly Republicans will oppose any attempt to raise taxes on families and businesses to pay for poor spending choices by Sacramento politicians. California does not have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem. We applaud the governor for rejecting billions of dollars in Democrat tax increases last session, and stand with him in defending California taxpayers.
While there are many difficult issues to consider this year, I believe we can pass a budget without unnecessary delay if we start the heavy lifting this spring and avoid waiting until the last minute. Working together, I am confident that we can craft the balanced budget our state deserves, a responsible budget that moves California forward