[guest post by Dana]
California is a beautiful state. No doubt about it. Golden sunshine, stunning coastline, great beaches, breathtaking forests, endless deserts, small towns, big cities. Something for everyone.
Unfortunately, our state motto appears to have changed to: A bloated budget is a better budget! This speaks to the fact that what we do lack in our great state is a sane government. Californians are held hostage by the looney left, who, to put it mildly, believe that big spending is the duty of all governments. And of course, as is always the case, the middle class gets stuck with the bill.
With that, Governor Jerry Brown just signed our new budget. Here are some of the more troubling items in the new budget:
Record Level of State Spending – General Fund spending spikes year-over-year in Brown’s budget by over $12 billion, taking general fund spending up to a new record high of $108 billion. If you actually compute total state spending from all fund sources, total state spending hits a new record high of $230 billion! Many of these spending increases are reflected in significant increases in entitlement programs, ensuring that California continues to be a leader in providing the most generous social welfare program funding in the country.
Swimming Pools – Courtesy of taxpayers all over California, the people of the relatively small border town of Calexico will receive millions of dollars for a very large swimming pool. But there’s more. The budget also contains millions to fix some cracks in the large, iconic “Neptune Pool” at the historic Hearst Castle on California’s central coast.
Local School Districts Required to Reduce Reserves – In a blatant flexing of political muscle by the California Teachers Association, a last-minute change in the budget will put severe restriction on local school districts to keep healthy reserves–their “rainy day funds”–to protect themselves against future economic downturns. The motive of the unions here is to force school districts to spend that money, knowing that some of those funds will be spent on the salaries and benefits of their members.
Drug Felons on Welfare - Until the enactment of this budget, state law prohibited convicted drug felons from receiving any benefits from two of the state’s largest welfare programs, CalWORKS and CalFresh (food stamps). But not anymore–now, instead of just vouchers, they will be eligible for cash (ka-ching!). The projected cost increase of this new policy: $50 million!
Unoccupied Governor’s Mansion – The State of California owns a 137 year old Governor’s mansion. It has been unoccupied since then-Governor Reagan and his first lady, Nancy, abandoned it for a house in the Sacramento suburbs. Even though Governor Brown has no plans to live in it afterwards, the state budget contains $2.5 million bucks to renovate the mansion.
Blank Check for High-Speed Rail – You would never know how unpopular the high-speed rail (HSR) boondoggle is in public opinion polls if you looked at Brown’s budget. The budget includes $250 million in spending on HSR from funds coming in from the state’s dubious cap-and-trade carbon emission program. It also establishes that in future years, hundreds of millions will be spend on HSR with no future vote of the legislature required – it’s on perpetual auto-pilot! Even worse, the HSR Authority will undoubtedly issue revenue bonds against this future revenue, borrowing money now to be repaid later. Oy.
More Funding for Abortions – One of the most controversial aspects of California’s budget is the substantial amount of taxpayer funding for “pregnancy termination services.” This year’s budget provides for a staggering 40% increase in the reimbursement rate for abortions in the MediCal program. Well over $5 million in taxpayer funds is set aside to fund abortions. Sick.
Coastal Commission Power Grab - It pays to be the Assembly Speaker. Just ask the current occupant of the job, Toni Atkins. The Assemblywoman had been trying for years to expand the power of the California Coastal Commission, a controversial government entity because of its wide-ranging control over private property along our state’s coastline. Atkins had not been having luck passing a bill to give the Commission the power to levy fines independently without going to a judge. Somehow this power grab ended up in the final language of the budget.
California dreaming has taken on a whole new meaning.