Editorial: Terminating the Budget
Despite Arnold Schwarzenegger's propensity to be less than amiable towards many limited government issues, the California Governor has done all Californians a favor—and served as a great example to the rest of our nation's leaders—by promising to terminate state Democrats' latest budget plan.
Faced with an unprecedented $40 billion state budget deficit over the next 18 months, California—singlehandedly one of the world's largest economies—is in dire straits. To make matters worse, its nearly one-party legislature has been mired in a “tax and spend” mindset for years now.
Predictably enough, these Democrats' methodology in dealing with the current budget crisis is higher taxes and meager, half-hearted spending cuts. And that is exactly what their latest budget plan called for. Personal income and sales tax hikes, a new 39-cents-per-gallon fee on gasoline, and a new tax on oil production were among its provisions.
Thankfully, California Republicans—and now the Governor—have remained steadfast in refusing to buckle under pressure from state Democrats and compromise their principles of fiscal responsibility. In their eyes, a budget shouldn't be passed for the sake of passing a budget. With regards to the latest Democrat-conceived proposal, Governor Schwarzenegger said the following at a recent news conference:
"This package they are sending down does only one thing, and that is punish the people of California. This fell short on every single level … so I cannot sign this."
In addition to fighting for spending restraint, Arnold Schwarzenegger deserves credit for resisting the “business as usual” mentality that is so rampant among entrenched politicians—more specifically the “vacation as usual” mentality. Just as Congress decided to take a month off during the height of the offshore-drilling debate earlier in the summer, many California legislators want a long Christmas break. As the Governor urged:
"They should stay here, work some more on the budget. I am willing to stay here…and I think the Legislature owes it to the people of California to solve this problem before Christmas."
All in all, California—and its leadership—ought to serve as a lesson not just to other states, but to the Federal Government as well. When out of control spending, declining revenues in a tough economy, and incompetent, one-party leadership combine, nothing but chaos can ensue.
Moreover, the powerful unions and other special interests have had such a firm grip on state lawmakers that passing any kind of budget cut—especially within their realms—is nearly impossible. For Governor Schwarzenegger to buck these special interests and take a stand for spending restraint does require sacrificing significant political capital. To be fair, it does take some courage to stand up to those interests.
Hopefully the nation's incoming leadership—with its Democratic controlled executive and legislative branches—won't befall the same fate as California, especially considering the ever-worsening economy and increased influence of special interests.
If it does, hopefully we can count on leaders akin to California state Republicans willing to resist the one-party rule that calls for endless tax increases and limitless Big Government encroachment.