California’s budget crisis is seriously downplayed in the media. Many don’t realize Gov. Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal state of emergency this month. I feel it’s my civic duty to bring readers a thorough analysis of the issue before the liberal media gets the opportunity to wrongfully slap the blame on our governor.
Our state has a gap of $14.5 billion in its budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year. This massive deficit rivals that which Schwarzenegger “terminated” when he replaced former Gov. Gray Davis in 2003’s recall election. The “Governator” was elected on the premise that he would balance California’s budget and keep it that way. Yet, we find our state government scrambling once again to keep California’s finances out of the red. My first thought upon hearing these staggering numbers: Blame Arnold. How dare he squander the tax dollars of Californians after we were forced to borrow extensively to cover Davis’ deficit – which was estimated to be over $30 billion. However, there is much more to this financial debacle.
California’s budget crisis has resulted largely from forces outside of Arnold’s control. The U.S. economy has been ravaged by the increasing rate of housing foreclosures, which can affect the availability of home loans and desirable interest rates, and now a looming recession. This drop in the economy has led to a decrease in spending on the part of consumers, particularly on expensive luxury items. When people spend less, the state earns less money in sales tax revenue. In addition, major cuts in the job market – particularly in the housing industry – have resulted in even less income for California. All the while, the state budget has not decreased its spending in a way that reflects the gloomy economic situation, resulting in our current predicament.
The Democrat-dominated state legislature foolishly called for an increase in taxes to make up for the lost revenue. Americans are already failing to pay their sky-high house payments, yet the solution coming from the left is to take more money out of the hands of the working people to cover the state’s expensive social programs. Spending is already dropping dramatically, and employment is becoming harder to find. Putting the burden of this crisis on the backs of working families is thoughtless and shows how out of touch these liberals are with America’s economic needs. The Democrats’ plan would only dig the hole deeper for our nation’s economy.
Arnold took a more logical approach to the problem. If less money is available for spending, you need to reduce how much you spend. The governor promised Californians he would maintain a balanced budget while in office without more taxes, and that is exactly what he intends to do. His plan calls for huge cuts – primarily to education and prisons. Public schools and universities absorb nearly 43 percent of the state budget. The education system has already been ravished by budget cuts and, to the dismay of liberals, there is no other choice but to make further reductions. In addition, Schwarzenegger called for the early release of prisoners who have less than two years of their sentence remaining and exhibit good behavior. Many Conservatives are furious over this decision. A reduction in these key areas will help alleviate the strain on California’s wallet. At the very least, we can give credit to the governor for not favoring Conservatives in his choice. Both sides are experiencing a loss of funds to areas they passionately support.
Finally, we have a governor with the know-how to deal with crises in California’s budget. While cuts to our state’s budget are by no means desirable, it shows the governor’s ability to think quickly and his commitment to using tax increases only as a last resort. Arnold has done nothing wrong in managing the budget, and there is no sense in placing blame. But we can – and should – hold our government responsible for how they deal with the problem. Though painful, Schwarzenegger proposes the most logical and well thought out solution, and hopefully our state legislature won’t manage to screw it up. Hold on kids, no matter whose plan wins, 2008 is going to be a bumpy year!