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Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco
by Burt Prelutsky
by Mark Steyn
They Ever Learn, Part II
by Ray Haynes [politician]
California Legislature could take a lesson from George Santayana,
a notable philosopher,
who coined the phrase, "Those who do not learn from history
are doomed to repeat it."
way to learn about how government works is to watch the budget
process. In a state that distributes over $200 billion ($101
billion in general fund, $32 billion in special funds, and
another $60 to $100 billion in a variety of other government
programs), the stakes for those who can get a piece of that
pie become very high. Most of what occurs in that process occurs
behind the scenes in very high stakes negotiations, with very
few participants. Most members of the Legislature are not always
certain about what occurs, and are often left with just hours
to consider how to spend this enormous amount of money. I spent
10 years of my time in the Legislature on the budget committee,
and I can tell you, even I am unsure about everything the state
spends its money on. I can say that when I first joined the
Legislature, our total general fund spending was $42 billion.
If all of the programs the state spends money on were added
together then, the total spending was about $110 billion. Today,
that number is $101 billion general fund, and over $230 billion
total, a huge increase in just 14 short years.
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][go to Haynes index]
Which is why I have voted against just about every budget.
The one budget I voted for was the smallest increase in the history
of the state, a proposed $100 million increase, in the 2004-05
budget. That projection turned out to be wrong. The state ended
spending about $2 billion more than the projection, but, all
in all, it was a relatively restrained budget. Not so, today.
This week, the Legislature will vote on the 2006-07 budget.
It will be the last budget on which I have the opportunity to
vote, and, if I have any regrets about my time here in Sacramento,
it has been my relative inability to restrain the expansion of
government that has occurred while I was here.
In fact, all of the incentives in government weigh in favor
of centralizing government power, and making that central government
bigger. In most budget discussions at the state level, Democrats
advocate for more spending on education and welfare, and most
Republicans advocate for more spending on law enforcement and
road construction. The compromise is usually to spend more money
on both. The two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget usually
requires the Democrats to pay at least lip service to Republican
priorities in the budget, but it has never worked to restrain
the growth of government.
That is because all
politicians benefit from the centralization and growth of government.
By the granting and withholding of
the benefits of government, or using the power of government
to intrude on a person’s life or business, politicians
make themselves more important to people. Most people avoid contact
with the government, just ask anyone how happy there are to see
a tax collector or a traffic cop. If government officials didn’t
stick their nose into everyone else’s business, people
would avoid them like the plague. Politicians and bureaucrats
maintain their power by intruding on people’s lives and
taking their money. That is true no matter who is in charge.
This year’s budget epitomizes the problem. The state
is spending every dime it takes in, and then some. To the Governor’s
credit, he is trying to pay down some of the debt he inherited
from Gray Davis, but the Democrats in the Legislature don’t
want to do that. In fact, they want to spend more money on more
government programs. That is exactly how we got into trouble
under Gray Davis, ending up with horrific deficits. It is only
a matter of time before it happens again. CRO
Haynes is a California Assemblyman repesenting Riverside
and Temecula and frequent contributor to CaliforniaRepublic.org.