State budgets reflect state priorities. For most Californians, those priorities are protecting funds for education and public safety, while putting people back to work. A good budget recognizes and furthers those priorities. If not, it deserves a swift rejection.
Democrats in the Legislature have passed a budget for the coming fiscal year. That budget failed. It may reflect the priorities of the ruling party in Sacramento, but it does not reflect the priorities of the people.
Our public education system gets no relief in this new budget from the fiscal woes of the past few years, despite the fact that Republicans in the Assembly put forth a comprehensive plan to avoid any further education cuts. Meanwhile, education remains targeted for 99 percent of the billions in "trigger cuts" in the event voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown's tired and uninspired effort to yet again raise taxes.
Government has an undeniably proper role in protecting the public. Yet, after the governor's dreadful public safety "realignment" idea was passed by the Democrats last year, dangerous criminals have been removed from state prisons, pushed down to the counties, and ultimately onto our streets. The failed budget does not undo that decision. Nor does it provide the funds necessary to protect the public in the face of the increased threat. Public safety and the ability of our court system to perform its constitutional duties are at significant risk.
These are not the only defects in the budget. While it declines to adequately protect education or the public, it also fails to tackle any of California's long-term problems. The Legislature did nothing to lighten the state's crushing regulatory burden on businesses and entrepreneurs so they can put people back to work and grow the economy. It did nothing to curb California's significant public-employee pension problem. It did nothing to give schools and community colleges relief from costly, oppressive state government micromanagement through the Education Code.
Finally, and incredibly, the state also spends more in the budget this fiscal year than last. That's right. Spending is actually up this year.
Times are tough, and we have a multibillion dollar deficit that makes it impossible, according to the budget writers, to protect funding for education or public safety. Yet, General Fund spending in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is 6 percent higher than General Fund spending in the current year, which ends June 30.
In addition, total spending, according to the governor, is projected to increase 29 percent over four years.
Will your family's spending grow 29 percent the next four years? More importantly, will your income grow 29 percent the next four years, so you'll have the money to pay for the governor's new spending?
The governor certainly plans to have the money - your money - and he knows how to get it. He intends to fuel this bloated spending with a massive $45 billion tax increase. And, if the tax-increase ballot measure, education bears the overwhelming brunt of the retaliation through trigger cuts.
Budgets really are about priorities. Californians tell us that theirs are to put people back to work while protecting education and public safety. We should listen, and should budget accordingly. Unfortunately, those are not the priorities in the Democrats' failed new budget.