By Assemblymember Marie Waldron
The Legislature has now passed a budget for the coming Fiscal Year. For the first time in years, the budget relies on more realistic revenue projections that, as a small business owner, I can support. As such, the $96.3 billion budget is an improvement over past budgets that were often based on fantasy revenue projections.
On the other hand, the budget fails to hold the line on new spending and locks in future welfare increases. Despite passage of Proposition 30 last year to fund public education, the budget delays repayment of much of the debt owed California’s schools. In addition, legislation that my Republican colleagues and I supported to freeze college tuition and restore Cal Grant funding was blocked by the majority party. The budget also perpetuates the Governor’s prison realignment scheme which has transferred thousands of dangerous inmates from state to county supervision.
Billions in unfunded liabilities are simply ignored in our new “balanced budget,” including $10 billion borrowed from the federal government to fund California’s otherwise insolvent unemployment program, and $50 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care.
While this budget is an improvement over the fantasy budgets of the recent past, it does nothing to address the real “fiscal cliff” lurking just down the road. Consequently, I joined my Republican colleagues and voted “no” when the budget bill was presented for final approval on June 14.