State lawmakers who want an all-cuts budget because less government is better should get their wish starting with their own districts, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said this morning.
Lockyer, visiting the Bay Area News Group-East Bay’s editorial board, said that when these lawmakers – many of whom already serve the state’s most recession-stricken areas – start hearing from their constituents about even deeper cutbacks in police and fire services, public schools and universities, social services and the like, they’ll soon think the better of stonewalling a public vote on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to extend current tax rates for five more years.
It’s a put-your-money – or lack thereof – where-your-mouth-is tactic.
Short of even more painful cuts atop those already signed into law, Lockyer sees no end to the current deadlock, he said.
Refuting the common “it’s a spending problem, not a revenue problem” meme, Lockyer noted that under Gov. Ronald Reagan, general fund spending amounted to about $5.02 for every $100 of wealth in the state. If Brown’s tax extensions are enacted, the rate would be about $5.05 per $100 – basically flat since 40 years ago.
He came loaded for bear with a packet of graphs and charts showing the huge spending reductions that an all-cuts budget would entail, and as well as tracking various scenarios under various kinds of spending caps. The long and short of it is that Brown’s plan would allow the most growth in general-fund spending over the next five years; about 4.7 percent; a spending cap based only on personal income growth would allow about 4.4 percent growth; a spending cap based on growth in population and the Consumer Price Index would allow for about 2 percent growth; an all-cuts budget espoused by Republicans would allow for about 1.7 percent growth; and ACA 4, a rainy-day-fund expansion measure passed by the Legislature last year and now awaiting voter approval, would shrink spending by about 0.7 percent.
“The dirty little secret is that neither D’s nor R’s know what creates jobs,” he said, noting that Democrats tend toward dumping more money into public spending while Republicans look to “make the rich richer.” There’s less evidence for the latter’s efficacy, he said, but both reflect more ideology than actual track record.
He said although he favored moving in January to put a tax-extension measure on the ballot without Republican votes, he understands why Brown might’ve felt “the optics necessitated the exercise” – an effort to allow for bipartisanship, even if Republicans “were always going to find an out” from signing onto the plan.
“The people who want less government ought to be at the front of that line to get less government,” he said, even as Brown “has to keep doing what he’s doing, keep engaging Republicans.” The task is to “have people try to understand what an all-cuts budget means, in very specific terms.”