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Bruce Bialosky

Cut Government? Heaven Forbid

In a recent column I defined how the federal government could easily make cuts to national expenditures, but instead just ignore the idea and forge forward. At least our national leaders can legally print money and incur debt. Local and state governments are mandated to have balanced budgets. In the great state of California, however, they are redefining how they fix their budget messes.

The root cause of the problem today is the “high” governmental entities experienced because of the Biden money tree handing out billions of borrowed dollars to these governments due to Covid. Instead of treating the funds as temporary fixes, elected officials continued their spending sprees and, in some cases, stepped on the gas and spent more.

I recently woke up to this headline from the LA Times (formerly a newspaper) – “L.A. looks to cut 2,000 vacant jobs due to budget woes.” Mayor Karen Bass and her team of mathematical magicians have figured out how to solve their budget problems. They are cutting jobs that don’t really exist except in the minds of bureaucrats who run various different departments. No one is actually losing a job except for ghost employees.
Don’t get me wrong, these positions were budgeted. If they are axed from the budget, they hopefully will stay axed from future budgets. That is a good thing. The question is how does this solve any cash crunch?

I was waiting for the wailing from the department heads and the workers telling us how they need those jobs filled because they are short on staff. Which begs the question, in modern America has there ever been a governmental entity that did not tell its customers (you and me) that they are short-staffed? Not to my knowledge. The worst are the tax agencies that don’t answer their phones. You think the people in charge of collecting revenue would answer the phones. Don’t tell me that Biden and his gang wanted to expand the staffing at the IRS to do that. All he talks about is going after ‘rich’ people in audits. That is exactly what his IRS Commissioner is touting.

Guess what the only real money solutions are? Raising fees. That means more taxes. Also, cutting public works projects. You know — the basics of what the municipal government is supposed to do. Nothing about cutting back on the myriad of non-essential commissions like the Women’s Commission on Transsexual Navel Hair. No, those useless blabber machines are all sacrosanct while the replacement of decaying sewer pipes can wait a few more years.

While the City of Los Angeles wallows in its budget sinkhole, the State of California has hit its own wall after the deluge of “Biden Bucks” ended. From a huge surplus the state has a deficit for the next fiscal year. Gallivanting Gavin has suggested the deficit number at $38 billion, while a more capable and independent analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office has nailed the number at $73 billion. Either way we are looking at a whopper of a number.

If you wonder why they cannot get a better handle on this, look to the fact that just recently California filed its mandated audited financial statements for the 2021-2022 fiscal year (you read that date correctly). It was filed 350 days late. Was anyone fired? Did anyone in the government even complain?

To solve this burgeoning budget, Gallivanting Gavin proposed cuts to the proposed budget by a whopping $8.5 billion and taking $13.1 billion from the state’s “rainy day fund” — otherwise described as unspent Biden Bucks. That may seem a little short to you to cover the massive shortfall. The legislature is balking at that.

The new leaders of the Assembly and State Senate have met to review the matter. They apparently came to an agreement to cut $17.3 billion from the budget. The only thing they decided to cut that I saw is $3.6 billion from primary level schools and delay $5.2 billion in spending. They also are raising taxes — $3.8 billion on managed care health plans. That is an indirect increase in health insurance costs. The last piece is taking $12.2 billion from reserve funds.

Mind you, the state of California is spending twice the amount per capita (that means based on the current population) that it spent 10 years ago in constant dollars, but the elected officials cannot identify cuts in their budget to meet the mandate of having a balanced budget.

Whatever cuts they make, they will be transitory or illusionary. As stated before, these government officials can’t seem to identify anything they do as unnecessary except for the actual essential government services they are elected to provide to their actual residents.