By Jon Coupal | Let’s face it, when it comes to the state budget of California, most citizens suffer from MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over). Because even public finance experts are confused by the thousands of pages of budget documents, it’s no wonder that citizen taxpayers don’t stand a chance. Besides, normal people are too busy working hard to pay for all the spending increases reflected in the budget.
Nonetheless, passage of the state budget remains one of the most important functions of the Legislature because it reflects the state’s spending priorities for years in the future. Here are some key takeaways that should concern every California taxpayer.
First, government spending is out of control. While projected revenues are up eight percent – a good thing – from a year ago, expenditures continue to accelerate at a faster clip, up by nearly eleven percent to a record $138 billion budget. When other state funds, including special funds, are added to the total, nearly $200 billion in state funds will be spent in this budget. Legislators will argue that some of these expenditures are going to bolster a rainy day fund to protect against an economic downturn. While this fund is also at a record $14 billion, this will hardly protect state programs even in the event of even a moderate recession. Second, we doubt that the spending priorities of politicians reflect what taxpayers think are important. For example, this year’s budget includes a billion-dollar plan to completely remodel the State Capitol, while the state continues to lose ground on nearly a trillion dollars of unfunded pension obligations.
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