Governor Jerry Brown has openly stated that a recession is coming and that budget cuts are inevitable. So I began my comments on the final budget acknowledging the uncomfortable fact that – at $125 billion – this is California’s largest general fund budget ever. It is difficult to reconcile the fact that a future deficit is a foregone conclusion while we quickly ramp up spending. Now would be the prudent time to put a little extra to the side and draw down our debts.
I currently support the $6 billion pension pre-payment plan, but I had to point out that the taxpayers aren't getting a great deal. A large pre-payment like this should be incentivized by the CalPERS board, which could result in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars saved down the road. Unfortunately, the CalPERS board – largely made up of union members – doesn't seem to possess the financial sophistication needed to make such a deal.
Proposition 56 has also been abused. Plain and simple. The drafters of this measure certainly had a different idea in mind with where the money would be spent. Instead, this budget plan siphons away a majority of the funds from a $2 per package tobacco tax increase. Proposition 56 promised doctors better funding to remain in California and provides funds for children with dental needs. It's a bait and switch. This isn't right.
The trailer bills we have been voting on are abusive to the process of good government. They are "gotcha" bills that create victims unawares by switching the rules on public agencies overnight. It happened to us in Orange County. It shouldn't happen again.
This is the largest state budget in history at a time when the state should be exercising fiscal prudence in light of oncoming economic challenges. Let us get in front of the next downturn so we can maintain current services to Californians.