Friday, June 14, 2013

Now That Republicans Are Out of the Way, California Balances Its Budget and

Maybe the State is Governable Again

[Editor's note:  Today's gloat is brought to you by the letters e and z, and the number 7.]

In recent years the only role that Republicans played in the state of California was that of obstruction, much the same way that is the only role that national Republicans play in Washington.  But unlike in Washington, voters in California got fed up and put the Democrats in charge, and despite the forecasts of doom and gloom by conservatives, the state seems to be coming under fiscal control.

The latest news is that the Governor, Jerry Brown, who wanted a conservative budget and the legislators who wanted to restore some of the spending that was cut when California was suffering have reached a nice amiable agreement, one that is full of compromise which is the way government is supposed to work.

Darrell Steinberg
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) smiles as he leaves Gov. Jerry Brown's office after a budget meeting with Brown and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) in Sacramento.(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press / June 10, 2013)

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg noted that the agreement is poised to become the third on-time budget in a row in California. Lawmakers have until Saturday to approve it in the full state Senate and Assembly.
"This one feels even better than the first two," he said.  
The $96.28-billion compromise accomplishes much of what Brown wanted in the budget, including more money for schools with large numbers of students who are poor or English learners. It also hews closely to Brown's more conservative tax revenue estimates.
At the same time, Brown found room for several proposals from Democratic lawmakers, albeit pared down or delayed versions. The budget includes or lays the groundwork for more spending on dental care for poor adults, increased welfare grants, tuition assistance for university students and child care.

All of this is probably cause for massive heartburn by Republicans in the state, who hate effective government, but then nobody seems to be listening to them anyway.  As for the national conservative movement, here is the Wall Street Journal whining that Texas, flush with revenues is actually spending some of the money instead of enacting tax cuts for the wealthy.

The danger is that Texas will repeat the fiscal mistake that California has made repeatedly: spend during the glory days and, once the economy slows, raise taxes to cover the deficit. The Texas oil patch is riding high on $95 a barrel oil and a doubling in production in four years. But Texans shouldn't forget the lesson of the 1980s and late 1990s that oil prices are volatile and a decline can be painful and prolonged.

Mr. Perry traveled on a business recruiting mission to California in February and poked fun at the tax-spend-and-borrow cycle in Sacramento. He can fix the reckless Texas budget by vetoing all or most of it and insisting on deeper business tax cuts. He should not want people to start comparing him unfavorably to Jerry Brown.

Well WSJ, not to worry.  First of all people for years have compared Texas Gov. Rick Perry unfavorably to Jerry Brown, and just about every other successful government official.  And secondly, Mr. Perry and Texas seem to be learning something from California, namely that a robust economy requires some government investment in education, infrastructure and health care.  So sorry conservatives, we know this must be just killing you.

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