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Ray Haynes

They Just Can’t Help Themselves And You and I Are Gonna Pay

The Dems recently announced how they have enacted a “fiscally responsible” budget for the current 2019-2020 budget year. Rather than buy the PR, let’s look at the numbers.

First, references. Take a look at What is this? It is the budget’s Schedule 6. Most budget decisions made by legislators are made in a vacuum. The process looks like this: (1) between September and December, the various agencies and departments submit to the Department of Finance their desired budgets for the following fiscal years, called “budget change proposals” (BCPs); (2) In January, the Department of Finance (DoF) (controlled by the Governor’s office) submits to the Legislature the “Governor’s budget,” (3) In late February, the Legislative Analysts Office (LAO) (controlled by the Democrat Leadership in the Legislature) submits its analysis of the Governors budget; (4) Between March and May, the budget committees act on the BCPs; (5) In May, the DoF releases its “May Revise” and the LAO analyzes it; (6) In late May and early June, the budget committees complete their work based on the May Revise; and (6) In June, the Legislature acts on the budget, followed by the signature or line item vetoes by the Governor. The great thing about the Schedule 6 is that it gives a 50 year perspective on the increase of the size of government in California, one that the budget process never addresses.

The evil of the process begins with the BCPs. Budget Change Proposals are only the changes the agency or department desires different from the actual budget of the previous year. No one analyzes if any of the programs in the BCP is necessary (except the bureaucrat whose livelihood depends on the continued existence of the program). No one analyzes whether any of the programs are actually accomplishing the goals for which they were created are being achieved. Most BCPs say (in a nutshell) “we had 90 employees and spent $5 million last year. This year we need 97 employees and $7 million.” In years when the state is flush with money, the Legislature just approves these BCPs with little or no oversight, and then create a dozen or 50 or 60 more ways of spending money. In years when money is tight, the Legislature pushes to raise taxes, saying that the “increase” is necessary to supply “basic state services.” Leave aside the fact that most of the state services are unnecessary, or could be provided better by the private sector, the Dems in the Legislature continue to feed the bureaucratic leviathan with our hard earned income.

Let’s look at the 2019-20 budget. Revenue is up, from $138 billion to $143 billion. Spending is up from $142 billion to $147 billion. The only reason the state can afford to do this is the state is living off of surpluses from previous years. The Legislature and Governor, however, are spending those surpluses like drunken sailors on leave. The revenue will drop (during my time it dropped $10 billion in one year, and then general fund revenue was $78 billion instead of $142 billion). If it drops $20 billion (which would be similar to the drops on a percentage basis I saw), the surplus will disappear overnight, and the state will say it has to raise taxes again.

In 2010, total general fund spending was $87 billion, 57% of today’s spending. Is our state government delivering 43% better services? Are we 43% bigger? Has inflation increased by 43% NO it hasn’t. The Dems just keep spending. They are beholden to the government unions who profit from our tax dollars, so rather than cut our taxes by even half of that revenue, they continue their profligate spending to feed their union masters until the economy can’t take it anymore, and collapses. Then they blame us for not paying enough taxes.

They are not tax and spend, they are spend and tax. They are “spending addicts.” And you and I are enable their addiction, while the bureaucrats and their unions profit from their addiction. The Dems can’t help themselves, and they refuse to go to rehab. We are not too far from a time when we will pay for their addiction. The Dems will blame you and me, or they will blame Donald Trump’s tax cut, or they will blame greedy rich people, or they will blame everybody but themselves. The fact is they are addicts, and they will not stop spending until this state hits rock bottom. It’s time to get out, in the words of the old saying, while the “gettin’s good.”