As of today, May 27, the Legislature has just 35 days until the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. Now more than ever, it’s time for both parties to work together with greater urgency to reach bipartisan consensus on the responsible budget Californians deserve.
Assembly Republicans are fighting hard on behalf of California taxpayers for a fiscally-responsible budget that contains the tough but necessary cuts to close the deficit, reforms state government to end chronic budget crises, encourages job creation to bring in new revenue to the state and rejects new taxes.
With California facing a $19.1 billion budget shortfall – and projections of multi-billion dollar budget deficits far into the future – the Legislature has no choice but to find significant budget savings this year. While we will be forced to make some very tough choices, it is an inevitable reality that spending in every area of government must be on the table as we seek ways to find budget savings.
It is unfortunate that the only budget solutions Democrats seem willing to entertain are raising taxes. Just this week, Senate Democrats proposed a whopping $4.9 billion tax increase on every California family and job-creating business along with more massive, business as usual borrowing. With 2.3 million people out of work, and jobs leaving California, raising taxes is the worst thing we could do today.
Assembly Republicans believe that the best way to bring in new revenue to the state is to grow our economy. By taking steps to lower costs and make California more competitive for jobs, we will encourage companies to start up and expand in the Golden State, get people working again, and bring in more tax revenue for the state. One way we can do this is by passing the so-called Sinclair Paint fix, to rein in the Legislature’s ability to pass tax-like fees on already overburdened California job creators.
If we are ever going to bring in the type of tax revenue we all desire to fund priorities like education and public safety at the level we desire, then we must grow the economy and get people working again.
Democrats have also talked about the importance of budget reform. Republicans agree. Now is the time to fix our broken budget system by passing a strict spending limit and a strong rainy day reserve fund. Only by forcing the Legislature to bring spending in line with revenue will we make any realistic progress in ending runaway Sacramento spending.
We should also give the Governor the authority to make mid-year budget cuts during a fiscal crisis. Though there was agreement on cutting $20 billion from the budget last year the governor must be empowered to act quickly to make cuts during budget emergencies. California should not be hamstrung when the Legislature doesn’t have the political courage to act.
Unfortunately, when Democrats talk about budget reform, they really mean making it easier to raise taxes and pass budgets without Republican input. This would only pave the way for more of the irresponsible budgets that caused our current budget crisis in the first place. It would also drive up the pressure each year to raise your taxes to pay for this reckless spending.
The need for lawmakers to set aside partisanship and act with great urgency to pass a balanced budget is very important. Speaker Pérez has said many times that he wants a collaborative budget that comes from the Legislature, not one that is largely driven by the Big 5. We agree.
As someone who as participated in the drafting of 14 state budgets, I know firsthand the importance of reaching budget consensus in the Legislature. But we will not make much progress in doing so if the Budget committee and subcommittees are used to rubberstamp a partisan Democrat budget. If we are going to bring the parties together, then it is incumbent upon the Speaker to allow for an open, honest budget process, where Republican ideas are incorporated – not rejected on party-line votes.
Republicans appreciate the grave budget situation facing California, and are committed to working night and day to get the job done. We stand ready to work across party lines with Democrats to craft the honest, bipartisan balanced budget Californians deserve, with no new taxes.