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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]

Brother, Can You Spare A Nickel?
Liberal illusion: tax cuts cause deficits, not overspending
[Ray Haynes] 7/8/03

Over the last four or five months, some of my Democrat friends have been complaining that, since 1997, Californians have received $26 billion in tax breaks, which, they claim, is almost equal to our budget problem. They add wistfully that if the legislature had not cut taxes, the state would not have a budget problem.

Except the fact is that the total yearly amount of those tax rate reductions cost state government only about $5 billion per year (assuming that letting you keep your money costs government anything). These math wizards get the $26 billion number by adding up the tax saving you got each year one on top of the other to get the $26 billion number. Using that logic, California state government has spent $148.6 billion more since 1997. What do you think caused the $26 billion per year deficits? $26 billion total in tax cuts or $148.6 billion total in spending increases? Or, to compare apples to apples—what do you think caused our $8 billion per year overspending problem--$5 billion in tax cuts or $20 billion in spending increases?

Now—I understand that in the new, new math that my more liberal friends want to teach in schools, kids won’t be required to do simple calculation drills, like 20 minus 5 is 15, which means that we have spent $15 billion a year more in expanded government programs than we have in letting people keep the money they earn. Our school system is going to teach our children mathematical concepts. Well, here is a concept—20 is four times bigger than five. How about this one? An $8 billion deficit cannot be caused by $5 billion in tax cuts, because 8 is bigger than 5, even in the new, new, new math.

Recently, the new Superintendent of Public Instruction proposed getting rid of the high school exit exam, an exam that would make sure that the school system, which eats up over $50 billion of the money we spend, is actually teaching kids basic math skills (among other things). The Superintendent is essentially saying he doesn’t care if the schools are doing their job or not, and we should just let the kids go into the world without proving that they have ninth grade math skills.

I am not a conspiracy theory kind of guy. But, if the children we are graduating today don’t have basic math skills, they would never figure out that the Democrats are lying to them about the budget numbers. Is eliminating the test a coincidence, or a conspiracy—you decide?

I can compare mathematical apples and oranges to make my point just as easily as they can: The Democrat’s recent budget proposal increases state spending over last year by $2 billion. To do that, they want to raise your car tax by at least $500 in many families. The Republican’s recent budget proposal asks the largest government in state history to give up just one nickel of every dollar it spent last year. Five cents v. Five Hundred dollars. Even after this nickel reduction, most of the programs in this state will still be bigger than they were in 1998, when Gray Davis took over as Governor.

If I had my way, I’d take a dime out of every program’s dollar. Even at this rate, most programs would still be larger than they were in 1998. There is at least a dime’s worth of fraud, abuse and waste in most government programs, but, in the spirit of compromise, I’ll settle on a nickel, as will just about all my Republican colleagues. It is better than raising taxes on drivers by $500. Anyone can figure that one out, even if they can’t pass the high school exit exam.


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