[Publisher’s Note: We are pleased to offer this commentary from Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen, who’s sentiment below we believe speaks for most Republicans throughout the Golden State — Flash]
The Governor’s 2015-16 Budget Fails to Address the Real Issues
Assemblyman Travis Allen
Governor Brown just released his proposed 2015-16 Budget, and while there are positive aspects, such as maintaining a rainy day fund and beginning to address our state’s massive $73 billion unfunded healthcare liability for state workers, the Governor is out of touch with the real issues facing California.
Regarding the $73 billion healthcare liability, I proposed to prefund it last year in my bill, AB 1681, which would have required any new contracts by a public employer that provides postemployment healthcare benefits to include a strategy for prefunding those healthcare benefits. The Democrats that control the Legislature were unwilling at the time to ensure that the state take real action toward paying down the colossal debt amassed by decades of politicians. I’m looking forward to reintroducing the legislation this year and seeing if they will make good on the Governor’s promise.
Central to the 2015-16 Budget is the Governor’s proposal to increase overall state spending by 5 percent this year, which is disappointing, however not surprising. This proposed budget increase means that spending under the current Administration has gone up over 30 percent in the last five years. To pay for these continually increasing state budgets, California taxpayers are paying the highest tax rates in the country, and by extension California is consistently ranked among the worst states for new business creation and job growth.
And while Governor Brown continues to deliver feel good sound bites about California’s fiscal situation, companies and individuals are leaving our state in record numbers for states like Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado that have lower tax structures and prioritize business friendly policies which raise the standard of living for their residents. Just within the last few years California has lost the headquarters of such global companies as Charles Schwab and Toyota, while other businesses founded in our state, like Tesla Motors, refuse to expand here.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no effort to address the core issues of reining in government expansion, improving the business climate, and lowering taxes. Instead of taking substantive steps to “open California for business”, Governor Brown is taking $1 billion out of the AB 32 cap-and-trade funds and spending it on his political agenda, which includes the highly unpopular and unnecessary High Speed Rail project.
It should also be noted that California drivers continue to pay the highest gas taxes in the nation. Rather than addressing this in the Budget, the Governor is going to further increase the cost of gasoline for California families due to the new tax authorized by AB 32. The Governor plans to shift this hidden-tax money, ranging anywhere from 20 to 90 cents per gallon, to the High Speed Rail project. The reality is simple: the bureaucrat controlled California Air Resources Board has created a new tax on gasoline, despite widespread public disapproval.
As a representative of the people, I look forward to finding constructive ways to work with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to revitalize California’s economy. As budget negotiations progress, I will continue to fight for lower taxes and less government spending that will positively impact job creation and raise the standard of living for all Californians.