Today, Governor Jerry Brown released his 2016-17 Budget to outline how he wants to spend Californians’ tax dollars. Using conservative sounding talking points to describe his Budget, such as ‘it would be short-sighted in the extreme to now embark upon a host of new spending only to see massive cuts when the next recession hits’ and ‘in view of the $27 billion deficit of just five years ago, and the much larger one in 2009, it is clear that fiscal restraint must be the order of the day’, it’s surprising to see that his proposed 2016-17 budget spends $7 billion more than last year’s budget and a whopping $15 billion more than his 2014-15 budget.
Clearly, Governor Brown’s rhetoric doesn’t match his liberal spending plan for the nation’s largest state. In total, the spending increases in the two years since Brown was reelected in 2014 total $22 billion more in government largesse. It doesn’t take an economics degree to realize that ‘fiscal restraint’ is clearly not the order of the day:
California State Budgets over the Past 3 Years (Source: Legislative Analyst’s Office)
$122.6 Billion (proposed)
*** Total increase in spending since 2013 ***
$ 22.1 Billion
Put in perspective, the $22 billion in additional spending could have paid off nearly a third of our state’s $76 billion bond debt, increased our rainy day fund to over $26 billion, or even provided tax refunds of approximately $1300 to each of the 17 million Californians that filed tax returns.
With Brown’s proposed 2016-17 Budget, the Governor is trying to have his cake and eat it too, at the expense of hardworking Californians. With the highest in the nation personal income, gas, and sales taxes, California’s continued and callous disregard for taxpayer dollars has resulted in the state now also boasting the nation’s highest poverty rate.
In the Governor’s own words, ‘using surplus revenue won’t work and whoever said that is definitely not an accountant’, Jerry Brown shouldn’t be increasing spending, but instead should be using California’s additional tax revenue to shore up the state’s balance sheet, prudently save for the future, and directly improve the economy by returning the excess taxes to the taxpayers.