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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

A Budget With No New Taxes
The Governor keeps his promise...

[John Campbell] 1/18/05

Budget: Last week, the Governor introduced his budget proposal for the fiscal year July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006. Predictably, Democrats assailed it as being harsh and draconian and laden with too many cuts. But let’s look at the facts. The Governor’s proposed budget increases spending in the General Fund by 4.2%. That is a greater spending increase than was contained in any of the last 3 budgets, the last 2 of which were Gray Davis budgets. It also is an increase about in line with the inflation and population growth for the year. He has increased education spending by 7.1%. In other words, this is not a devastating cut-filled budget. It is a budget with substantial spending increases. I can actually (and through the year I no doubt will) make the argument that this budget increases spending by too much given the persistence of our budget problem in coming years.

But you say, I have heard that some reductions are contained in this budget proposal. That is true. Some of those reductions would be good ideas even in a period of budget plenty because they are simply the right thing to do, such as pension reform. However, some have been forced by the addition of entirely new or increased spending approved by the legislature or by the voters in recent years. Remember that every time you vote for a new bond, or something like the recent mental health program, you are voting to increase spending that will squeeze out some existing program unless taxes are continually increased to catch up. And that would be the worst thing we could do. So, because there is new spending in some places, other spending somewhere else has to go down.

Keeping his pledge, the Governor’s budget does not increase any taxes. The Governor obviously had to include the mental health income tax increase that was voted in by the people in the last election, but he has added nothing else. If a 4.2% increase in spending has elicited the outcry that it has, how big would the increase have to be to make the opposition happy? Probably at least another 5-10% and then more next year. So, do not be lulled into thinking that a little tax increase would solve the problem. It will be like having one Lay’s potato chip. A small tax increase will only whet the spender’s appetite for more.

Board of Education: One of the responsibilities that the State Senate has but the Assembly does not is the confirmation of certain gubernatorial appointments. One of the first of those in my short tenure in the Senate came up yesterday. The structure is that an appointee must first receive confirmation from a majority of the Senate Rules Committee and then must be confirmed by either a majority or a 2/3rds supermajority of the entire Senate.

Thursday’s contentious issue was the confirmation of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur by the name of Reed Hastings for a position on the State Board of Education. Mr. Hastings is a Democrat who was first appointed to that board by then Governor Gray Davis. At that time he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. His term has expired, however, and now Governor Schwarzenegger had nominated him for re-appointment. There are a lot of things I don’t like about Reed Hastings’ positions not the least of which has been his continual support for higher taxes and of the Democratic Party generally. But on educational issues, he has been an advocate of charter schools and other educational reforms that will help kids.

In Thursday’s confirmation vote in the rules committee, this Democrat’s confirmation was denied with both Republicans voting in favor of him and no Democrat supporting him. What caused this world turned upside down? Reed Hastings has been in favor of having all kids in public schools learn to read, write and speak in English. By the way, so are the people of California who overwhelmingly voted to support Proposition 227 in 1998, which required that the state transition from bilingual education. But it was clear that Mr. Hastings’ attempts to carry out the will of the people and his own beliefs in this area, condemned him with the Senate Democrats. Being for English education is a one-strike and you’re out litmus test with elected Democrats.

Education will be a hot button issue all year. There are both Republicans and Democrats (like Reed Hastings) who want to do real reform in education that will result in improved outcomes. But now you can see that even the most universally recognized and beneficial reforms are opposed by an educational establishment that has a political agenda of which better public education is not a part. They have had their way for many years. It is time to shine the light of truth on this issue, give reform a chance and take our schools back. CRO



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