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Ray Haynes

Billions for Me, Nothing for Thee

Did you know the Legislature actually passed a budget? If you weren’t paying attention, you would never know. It got very little media coverage.

It was, by and large, a meaningless act, since there is no deal on the budget with the Governor, but hey, the politicans will still get their paychecks. Back in the 2000-2010 decade, the Ds passed, and the voters approved, a budget constitutional amendment that had two major impacts: (1) it reduced the number of votes needed to pass the budget from a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature to a majority vote of both houses. The rationale for the change was that almost every other bill only requires a majority vote (only emergency type bills require two-thirds), so why should it be different for the budget?

The real rationale for the Democrat controlled Legislature was that they were tired of buying off Republican Legislators to get the votes necessary to pass the budget. Not that there were enough Rs to stop out of control spending, there were always two, three or four R legislators in the Senate and six to eight R legislators in the Assembly willing to sell their vote for some local pork. I recall one “relatively” small piece of pork, around $50 million, ended up costing the taxpayers of the state almost $30 billion. It was always a sad state of affairs for those of us who thought fiscal responsibility in state spending and taxpayer relief were important policy objectives. We usually sat by, frustrated by the process, while a small number of our Republican colleagues had local press conferences over the parks, pools, and museums they funded with the small amount of dollars they got in the budget at the expense of the taxpayers, who usually got gouged for billions of dollars for the latest D budget boondoggles.

That all ended with the majority vote change. That change was sold with the promise that legislators would not get paid if they didn’t pass the bill by June 15. The voters, thinking they were really “getting” those politicians, passed the change, hoping for a great reform of the budget process. What they got was a sham process, where the legislators pass a bill everyone knows is a fake, just so they can get their paychecks, and the process continues as they try to reach a real budget with real compromises.

So what did we get in the budget just passed? Really nothing, California’s working class created a massive budget surplus with the surging tax revenues and higher and higher tax collection on the gasoline they have to buy to get to work to earn the living that pays for the surplus. And the Democrats response? Here, have a check for $200. Of course, that check is not based on how much in taxes you had to pay. If you paid nothing in taxes, you still get $200. It also doesn’t take into account how much in gas taxes you pay. Depending on where you live and what car you drive, $200 will buy you two, maybe three tanks of gas. Working people buy that much gas in a month. The check is a joke, yet the Democrats are out trying to sell it as some major tax relief program.

On the other side of the ledger, the legislators are giving billions to their pet projects. Live in Texas, and want to kill your baby? We’ll pay millions to fly you to California to get the abortion. Are you in the country illegally and want free health care? We’ll pay billions of dollars to give you lots of free stuff, including health care. Billions to their government employee union donors, the teachers’ unions in the government run K-12 education system (despite their continuing failure to actually educate kids), plus billions more for the UC and CSU systems. Are you a professor who never darkens the door of a classroom? You get a raise. Are you a construction worker who makes the private sector work? You pay more in taxes, gasoline, health care costs, housing costs, food, and every other thing you have to worry about to raise your family.

Politicians and their supporters win, you lose. You will hear over the next several days how this Legislature has truly helped the people of the state of California and really care about you. What they have done is squandered a surplus on pet budget projects which feather their nest, and left the working people of California in a lurch, stuck with high taxes and high gas prices, with no real relief.

Thanks for nothing.