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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly]

First, Eat Your Vegetables
by Assemblyman Ray Haynes April 12, 2003

I really dislike green beans. I don’t know why, but there is not much about their taste or their texture that I find appealing. However, as a child, my mother insisted I eat them.

So—I ate them first in any meal in which they were served. Do the heavy lifting early, I learned, and the rest of the job is easy. This early lesson of eating the things I disliked first was a great lesson for just about every job I ever had. In any job, if you get the worst of the job out of the way early, the rest of the job is a piece of cake.

What has this got to do with the state budget? Well—I guess the Governor’s mother never made him eat his green beans at dinner.

Two years ago, in the negotiations leading up to the 2001-02 budget, it was clear to all concerned that the state was in trouble. The Governor had allowed spending to explode in his first two years in office. As a result, when the economy slowed in 2000, the revenues to the state were reduced, causing the Legislative Analyst’s Office to predict -a $4 billion revenue problem in the 01-02 budget. Republicans were predicting an even greater problem. Gray Davis chose not to eat the green beans that year.

Then came last year, an election year, tough decisions were now unavoidable. The Governor needed to eat green beans and liver to get through that problem. Instead, he went for the cake once again. He completed avoided the tough decisions necessary to bring the 02-03 budget into balance, choosing rather to borrow money against the tobacco settlement (the money the tobacco companies promised to pay the state as a result of lawsuits filed in the 1990’s to repay the state for medical costs allegedly incurred by the state for smoking related illnesses), to get through the election year budget. These tobacco payments were to be paid to California for twenty years, but he sold them last year so he could get $4 billion now, and use it now, so he wouldn’t have to reduce spending too much. He knew he still had a $6 billion deficit in the 02-03 budget, but he could worry about that after he was elected.

But now things have gotten even worse. The Governor was relying heavily on these tobacco settlement payments to pay for the $4 billion in bonds he issued last year so he could have the money now. However, this week, the state found out that the tobacco settlement payments were not as secure as they thought. An Illinois jury rendered a multi-billion verdict against Phillip Morris, jeopardizing the payments that Phillip Morris would be making to the state over the next 20 years. Since Phillip Morris represents about 40 per cent of the tobacco settlement, that means we could be receiving about $2 billion less than expected. But we still have $4 billion in bond payments to make, so now the state is left with an additional $2 billion problem to add to an already staggering deficit.

Davis has no one to blame but himself. He took the easy way out two years ago. He then flimflammed his way through the election year budget, pushing the state to near collapse. He left himself at the mercy of circumstance by not doing the heavy lifting early. He now wants to avoid the consequences of his failure to act by making you eat his green beans—he wants to raise your taxes.

Benjamin Franklin’s said “A stitch in time saves nine.” I learned “When your dinner includes green beans, eat them first.” Gray Davis failed to learn this simple life lesson. The state budget is a economic disaster, and it continues to get worse. I, for one, am going to do all I can to make him eat his own green beans – not feed them to me, and certainly, not you.


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