Assembly Member Diane Harkey responds to budget impasse


Assembly Member


Over the past 24 hours the wires are smoking with the CA Republican members of our Legislature detailing specifics of what they are requesting from governor Brown and their counterparts in Sacramento to arrive at a balanced budget.

The Sac Bee listed specifics of the GOP proposal yesterday and published the following guest view this morning. At the end of this post are links to both articles.

Viewpoints: Be thankful for ‘loyal opposition’ by GOP

By Diane Harkey
Special to The Bee
Published: Saturday, Mar. 26, 2011 – 12:00 am | Page 11A

To be “bipartisan” in Sacramento means following the Democrats’ agenda, continuing down the same path of overspending, regulation, taxation and debt that created our financial woes. Other states are bouncing back while our Golden State continues to lag in recovery.

There is no need to spin from budget dance to budget dance every six months. Unless we deal with the fundamental structural problems, we will continue to sway to the music of deficits and debt.

Unfortunately, the Democrats’ “fix” will only ensure that we bounce from deficit to deficit, hurt the most vulnerable and then go begging to the taxpayers for more money. The budget proposal increases state spending by 31 percent over the next three years, assuming tax extensions and sending our responsibilities to local government.

What is different this year is the resurgence of a “loyal opposition.” Republicans have switched from “let’s make a deal” of the Schwarzenegger era to ensuring that if we don’t have a role in diagnosing the cure, we are not going to swallow the medicine.

The governor’s budget adds more than 1,300 positions this year, many in “enforcement” and tax collections, to further “revenue” enhancement. Hence, the first divide: what stimulates revenue to pay for state services – hitting those paying or employing with more enforcement and new taxes and fees, or encouraging and increasing private sector employment?

Which leads to the next bone of contention: is the state spending too much or just struggling with a bad economy? While the housing crash began the downward spiral, we are dealing with many self-induced crises. Unemployment remains over 12 percent, but as high as 30 to 40 percent in some farming communities that have been stagnated by lack of consistent water allocations due to anti-people regulations.

We are losing businesses to other states, many asserting overregulation and taxation, and yet we are increasing staff and fees in regulatory agencies. We passed legislation requiring a 33 percent renewable energy goal by 2020, which will cause electricity costs to skyrocket. So, we are regulating the providers so they can’t “gouge” ratepayers.

Not all Democrats are happy with this medicine; they swallowed hard, cutting roughly $5 billion to $7 billion, many to social services, deferring and borrowing to reach what is claimed to be $12 billion in spending reductions. Republicans provided many substitute measures to save billions of dollars, but all were rejected. So, we provided cover to pass the cuts, as state spending must decrease in any way politically feasible.

For the moment, with the Democrats who are united in extending the “temporary taxes” for another five years, “politically feasible” means hitting the most needy, releasing prisoners and deferring payments to schools, but not reducing state overhead.

As time goes by, our proposals for reduced spending, pension reform, a firm spending cap and common-sense solutions to make California more business-friendly will gain in bipartisan appeal. Be happy we have a loyal opposition to counter the big-government, sky’s-the-limit, debt-is-good mindset that has ruled and ruined us on the “Left Coast.

Special thanks to the Sacramento Bee for publishing these two articles.

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