In short, the budget continues the unsustainable spending practices that have gotten California deeply into debt. The state's debt exceeds $400 billion, yet this budget calls for record spending and continues a trend whereby state spending increases at several times economic growth.
Real gross domestic product for most of the state is increasing at the national average of about 2% annually, but this budget continues state spending increases in excess of 7-10% per year in actual dollars, and more like 15-25% when debt costs and deficit spending is fully accounted for.
The sad fact is that most Democrats in the Legislature are simply incapable of showing any fiscal responsibility and have shown no willingness to control the cost of government, mounting government debt and unsustainable program growth.
The track record of California Democrats and the Democrat leadership is abysmal, so it was no surprise that this budget was anything different than what has gotten into the huge fiscal hole that we are in. But this budget does ensure that we will continue to sink further and have an even more difficult recovering from the state's fiscal peril and possible bankruptcy that awaits.
Most Democrats in the Legislature don't even have any idea what a fiscally responsible budget would look like and just follow the lead of the Democratic Leadership and the public employee unions who continue to use the California Democratic Party to promote a narrow pro-labor agenda that is a complete disaster for California. The pro-labor agenda primarily serves to promote electoral advantages for Democrat politicians and the personal enrichment of government employees at the expense of the public interest, taxpayers and the long-term fiscal health of the State of California.
Many Democrats even claimed that this budget was fiscally responsible because it sets aside a small reserve that the Governor required as a condition of his support for the budget. These reserves will be used up in less than a year in the event of a modest economic downturn.
Despite record revenues and a large influx of revenues from the Prop. 30 tax increases which are on the books through 2016, this budget still manages to significantly increases taxes and fees on ordinary Californians, while at the same time claiming to be looking after these same citizens. The budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars in increased taxes and fees, including increases in the "car tax" and cell phone taxes, and turns around to spend the money on vast program expansions and runaway government spending.
This budget does nothing to control the cost of government which is escalating at rates several times economic growth and was accelerated by the passage of the minimum wage which is already exceeding projected budget costs--leading to a reduction in child care slots and in-home support care from what was possible under prior cost structures just a few months ago.
Apart from high-speed rail, the only significant new infrastructure spending in the budget is $1.3 billion to improve Capitol offices, despite a huge infrastructure funding crisis in the state as a whole. The state cannot fund its road maintenance budget but easily manages to find $1.3 billion to pay for improving state and Capitol offices--a completely self-serving appropriation that shows just how out of touch most of the California Legislature is with the true infrastructure needs for the State of California.
This budget is a failure for working families and the State of California as a whole.
California voters deserve better, but they are unlikely to get it from the majority party who continues to show an unwillingness to side with the public interest over political considerations and special interests."
--David Kersten, Executive Director, Kersten Institute for Governance and Public Policy