If Only Jerry Brown Had Cuomo’s Courage
All across the land, it would seem that there is but one story to be written regardless of the locale – and budget cuts are that story. For years, rational legislators and commentators have warned American voters, and those legislators that have thrown economics to the wind, that spending beyond our means will lead to government meltdowns – and so it is today.
Here in California, during the recent State of the State by California Governor Jerry Brown – remarkable only for its brevity – Brown demanded more tax increases to “solve” the State’s now perennial budget crisis. In doing so, he decried politics as usual but demanded policies as usual.
California has become the tax and spend capitol of the world (outside of Washington DC) and its budget next year will feature a $7.65 billion in debt repayment alone – more than it spends on public universities and more than the overall budget of 21 states. By comparison, Wisconsin’s $137 million deficit seems quaint compared to California’s $20 billion+ deficit.
Brown also falsely claimed in his State of the State that no one was giving ideas on where else to cut and that if Republicans (and voters) didn’t go along with his tax hikes, he would cut deeper into education. Brown didn’t offer to cut the state bureaucracy – he threatened to cut education funding - as Democrats are wont to do in order to scare voters.
Now, it is widely known why Jerry Brown won’t take on government workers – after all, it was unions that bank rolled his election. They were returning the favor so many years ago from Brown when he enacted collective bargaining rights in 1978 the first time he was Governor.
As for ideas, Republicans have offered numerous ideas including derailing spending on high speed rail in California. This is an incredible boondoggle we cannot afford. Certainly California shouldn’t be adding onto to its house when it cannot make its mortgage payment.
What about auditing all of the State’s spending programs? Recently, Project 100 demonstrated that up to 25% of the welfare recipients in San Diego were not eligible to receive the benefits. Projected against the state welfare budget of $15 billion, that is a $3.75 billion savings – or nearly 1/3rd of the yearly tax hike Brown seeks for the next 5 years – and no, it is no more onerous to stop undue spending on welfare than it is to raise tax rates on Californians who face the highest foreclosure rates in the Country.
Need more ideas Mr. Brown? How about being Andrew Cuomo for a day. Cuomo – a Democrat in a Blue State – has taken on government bureaucracy and asked for the elimination of 11,000 government jobs. Now he is taking on school administrator compensation. According to the New York Post: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week will propose legislation to cap school superintendent’s six-figure salaries as a way to save school districts and their taxpayers $15 million.”
Cuomo’s rationale for such reductions? “We must wake up to the new economic reality that government must be more efficient and cut the cost of the bureaucracy,” said Cuomo. He has proposed a more than 7-percent cut in school aid to help contend with a $10 billion deficit and what he said is years of overspending. He said his cut can be handled by schools without layoffs and without hurting instruction.”
Now there’s an idea Mr. Brown. Stop falsely threatening school instruction and follow the lead of the Democrat Governor from the 2nd largest state in the Union.
That wouldn’t be politics or policies as usual – but then again, it is probable that somewhere, someone is saying: “I have met Andrew Cuomo, and Jerry Brown, you are no Andrew Cuomo.”