Over the last months of budget negotiations, there has not been evidence of a proposal forwarded by a state legislator of either party that reduces spending by the $40 billion necessary to balance the budget without a sizable tax increase. If that proposal exists, it has not benefited from sufficiently wide support from that legislator’s colleagues to become part of the budget debate.
Because of a lack of an alternative that balances the budget solely through spending cuts, it’s been apparent for some time that the final budget agreement will ultimately involve a considerable amount of additional taxes. That’s not a good thing, but it’s a thing. So at this point, Republicans have two options: either continue the stalemate indefinitely or propose that alternate budget. The lack of a state government holds great ideological appeal, but creates practical difficulties. So the question is: where is that alternative budget and the plan for building public and political support for it?
The budget before the Legislature is no cause for celebration. It’s unlikely that the Republican leaders who have been part of the negotiations – Schwarzenegger, Villines and Cogdill – will receive any congratulations. But they do not deserve castigation either, and in fact, should receive some credit for convincing the large Democratic majorities to offer concessions on a series of budget reforms, rainy day funds, job-creation incentives and regulatory relief that can help mitigate the damage that $14 billion in tax increases are likely to cause.
Thursday’s Capitol Weekly outlined several of the victories that Schwarzenegger and the GOP legislative leaders achieved.
The overwhelming majority of Republican legislators will vote against this budget on principle. That’s fine. But the handful who support it should not be condemned – at least not by anyone who has not published a complete list of $40 billion in recommended spending reductions. Opponents of this bill will be able to speak with much more credibility in the future if they produce that list before voting begins later today.