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Tom McClintock

Mr. McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature and ran for Controller on the Republican ticket in 2002. His valuable website is found at

the Shadow Governor
Uncompromising Gubernatorial Leadership
Advice for the Governor's State of the State...
[Tom McClintock] 1/6/04

Governor Schwarzenegger's State of the State address ought to begin with these words:

"Less than a year ago, the Legislature and the former governor passed a budget knowing it was billions of dollars out of balance. They approved runaway government spending and red ink as far as the eye could see. A year ago, if they had made a fraction of the cuts I proposed in this budget, we would not be in this mess today ... [This is] the first honestly balanced budget in two decades -- without fancy accounting gimmicks, without taking away people's health care or abandoning our public schools and, as promised, without a tax increase."

The words aren't original. Democratic Gov. James Doyle of Wisconsin spoke them last July as he signed his state's 2003 budget act. But they would serve as a powerful reminder that California's budget crisis is far from hopeless -- if the governor stands firm.

Indeed, a 13.4 percent reduction in the overall rate of spending, if made immediately, would completely cure California's deficit without tax increases or borrowing by the end of the 2004 budget year, and still annual spending would be 15 percent more than it was the day Gray Davis became governor. The 2005 budget could then begin with $12 billion of breathing room.

To accomplish this, California's governor must have the authority to make mid-year spending reductions -- something Gray Davis unsuccessfully sought last year. It's hardly a radical notion: California's governor had precisely this authority from 1939 until 1983 -- and it worked.

And if accompanied by four simple reforms, the spending reductions would not require cutting vital services.

First, we must restore to our government the same freedom every family exercises every day of the year: to shop around for the best service at the lowest price. California government is denied that freedom -- forcing it to rely on its outrageously expensive bureaucracies. Contracting out state services would save $9 billion annually, and in most cases actually improve the quality of services.

Second, California is notorious for its overlapping and superannuated bureaucracies. The "Bureaucracy Reduction and Closure Commission," modeled on the successful federal military Base Realignment and Closure Commission, passed the state Senate last year with broad bipartisan support, but is now stalled in the Assembly. The governor should demand its immediate passage -- or else organize it himself under his own executive authority.

Third, California taxpayers shell out $4 billion annually for services to illegal immigrants. Ten years ago, the people forbade these expenditures through Proposition 187 -- but Davis refused to defend it in court. Governor Schwarzenegger ought to announce that he is signing an executive order directing all departments to report all immigration violations they encounter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Fourth, California's workers compensation system is collapsing while across the state line Arizona operates its system at one-third the cost. California should adopt Arizona's system, resulting in direct savings of $2.4 billion to state and local governments.

Finally, the governor should announce that he is beginning a signature drive today to place the measures that require legislative action on the ballot and that he will call a special election the moment they're qualified. Legislators would have only that long to adopt these reforms or explain to voters why they failed to act.

True, that wouldn't be in the spirit of "bipartisan compromise" that many pundits are suggesting. But it ought to be remembered that it was precisely many years of "bipartisan compromise" that got California into its mess. Now is the time for uncompromising gubernatorial leadership.




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