Neil Fitzgerald | California’s Budget Insanity Continues

Neil Fitzgerald

This week, Democrats in Sacramento are busy scrambling to find savings in the budget due to the state budget deficit disaster. 

We have gone from a $100 billion surplus to a $70 billion deficit within a few years due to wasteful spending by the state of California.  

The state has increased spending by over 150% over the last 10 years. During this time, the Democrats have brokered no opposition,  not listened to reason or the voters and have had sole control of the budget process since 2011. 

The population of California was growing by about 4% until the recent exodus while general fund spending went from $86 billion to $222 billion. That shakes out at a 158% rise! 

When we had a surplus, Republicans warned about wasteful spending but were ignored.  

On top of the ever-increasing spending, the state woefully misforecasted tax revenues. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office said tax collections were off by $26 billion, a major driver of the deficit. 

Furthermore, the new minimum wage increase will see $20 billion extra in costs to the state for health care workers and Medicaid payments to hospitals. 

When it comes to our homelessness crisis, California put aside $7.2 billion to address homelessness in the 2021-22 state budget. Last year, there were an estimated 172,000 homeless statewide, which equates to spending nearly $42,000 per homeless person. We have a right to ask what the money is being spent on as we have all seen poor desperate people out on the street. Why are they not being helped? The state clearly cannot fix the crisis and a new approach is needed. 

CalMatters, a news research organization, states that “partnerships and nonprofits in Virginia, Tennessee and elsewhere have shown that they can sustainably address homelessness through novel methods, flexibility and personalization.” 

The deficit could have been prevented if the Democrats stopped treating taxpayers like an endless piggy bank. It’s all very well and nice spending the public’s money and making everyone feel better about themselves but there is a harsh financial reality that the Democrats won’t accept. 

Families across the state have had to balance their family budgets thanks to the shocking incompetence of the Biden Administration. Inflation is creeping up again. If families have had to make cuts to make ends meet, then so can the state of California.  

About 91% of Californians, in a poll released Feb. 22 by the Public Policy Institute of California, think “the people in the state government waste a lot of the money we pay in taxes.” 

The poll found that 48% of the respondents believe the state wastes “a lot” of their tax dollars and 43% said the state wastes “some.”  

When the voters who pay your salary think you’re wasting money, it is time to stop wasting money. 

The poll also showed that only 9% of voters favored tax rises as the only way to close the deficit. 

What is particularly galling is $280,000 being spent by state agencies on “inappropriate expenditures” last year, including the cost to keep the personal boat of a parks and recreation supervisor in a public dock. Another fantastic example is the wasted time of a sewage plant employee who shopped for comic books during work hours, according to a state audit report.  

The final shambolic example is the state employee who wanted to work from home. An audit found that the employee could have telecommuted to do her work. The agency said no and instead she was placed on leave for 20 months at a full salary, costing $114,000 during the pandemic. The audit found that the equipment would have cost “substantially less than paying the analyst’s full salary for 20 months while she performed no work.” 

And of course the creme de la creme of incompetence and wasteful spending is the high-speed train to nowhere. Now the Bakersfield to Merced section, which is 171 miles, is going to cost as much as the original estimate for the whole 800-mile project. 

The cost of this script will be $35 billion vs. the original projection for the whole line from L.A. to San Francisco at $33 billion. Now the whole project is going to cost $100 billion. 

California must stop spending so much money. We need to have a recruitment freeze in the state. We need to clamp down on unnecessary spending and we need to elect accountants and business people to get spending under control. 

We cannot elect well-meaning simpletons who think the answer to everything is spending more of our workers’ hard-earned money. 

Neil Fitzgerald is an international nonprofit leader having served in the U.S., U.K. and globally for various nonprofit and charity boards. He served as a conservative council member in the U.K. and as a campaign manager. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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