Reaction to Governor’s 2008-2009 Budget
A roundup of some of the reaction from media outlets and policy groups to the governor’s 2008-2009 budget:
The Governor has put forward an aggressive agenda for the special session and the 2008–09 budget. The Legislature should focus first on those areas where time is of the essence — where early decisions will allow state programs to achieve desired savings in the current year. The special session should also be used to lay the groundwork for achieving budget–year savings — for instance, by developing any program restructurings and taking any necessary actions on the current–year Proposition 98 minimum guarantee. In contrast to the Governor’s approach of across–the–board reductions, in our view the Legislature should (1) eliminate or further reduce low–priority programs in order to minimize the impact on higher priority programs and (2) examine additional revenue options as part of a more balanced approach. Making tough choices now will allow the state to move closer to bringing its long–term spending and revenues into alignment.
The magnitude of the proposed reductions and the policy changes necessary to achieve them are significant, even as compared to the sizeable shortfalls of the early years of this decade and the early 1990s.”
Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee (January 15):
Roy Bell, who was the state’s budget director a few decades ago, often referred to the annual unveiling of the governor’s fiscal plan as a “dog and pony show.” A more accurate description of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest budget pronouncement might be Kabuki theater. He and other actors are following a script that pretends his budget proposal is a serious effort at closing a huge deficit, even though everyone knows that it’s just a piece of political theater and that the final budget adopted six or more months hence will likely bear little resemblance.
Daniel Weintraub, Sacramento Bee (January 15):
Polls show that about half of Californians say they would rather pay higher taxes and receive more services than pay lower taxes and receive fewer services. But about 40 percent would prefer a lower-cost, slimmed down state government. And there is a big leap from getting people to say they prefer higher taxes to getting them to actually support a tax increase. Unfortunately for Núñez and his allies, the public has been hearing for years from Democrats that the state is “slashing” spending when it wasn’t true. Now that the threat is imminent, however, voters might conclude that the dire warnings they are hearing are just more of the same overheated rhetoric.
George Skelton, Los Angeles Times (January 14):
The historical figure that Schwarzenegger should be trying to emulate is Ronald Reagan, a fiscal conservative but pragmatist. To plug a huge deficit his first year as governor in 1967, Reagan raised taxes by a then-record $1 billion. He never had to worry about red ink again. Back then, the total budget was only $5 billion. The budget Schwarzenegger just proposed hit $141 billion, even with 10% across-the-board cuts. A more recent role model for Schwarzenegger should be his political mentor, Pete Wilson. In 1991, the new governor faced a $14-billion hole in a $43-billion general fund. (Schwarzenegger’s proposed general fund is $101 billion.) Wilson raised taxes by a staggering $7 billion — on income, sales, cars, liquor, candy. Name it. Then he filled the rest of the gap with cuts and magicians’ tools.
Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times (January 13):
I was there when Schwarzenegger told Warren Buffett to keep his mouth shut about the need to tinker with Prop. 13. It was the same day Arnold said that even his kids are smart enough to know you don’t spend money you don’t have. I was there when Schwarzenegger dropped the wrecking ball on an Oldsmobile to symbolize the end of the car tax increase. He failed to mention that municipal budgets would be bled dry as a result. And now he’s proposing a bump in vehicle registration fees to finance the DMV and Highway Patrol, along with an insurance fee (not a tax, mind you) to pay for firefighters. Where’s the wrecking ball now, and doesn’t this all add up to gross mismanagement?
More reaction is summarized here.