And we never did. A story by Bloomberg today complains about the long term spending increase that would be expected under Brown’s budget:
Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed $12.5 billion in budget cuts won’t prevent California’s spending from increasing 31 percent during the next five years, according to figures from his budget office.
Expenditures would rise to $111 billion by 2015 from $84.6 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1, under Brown’s plan. A third of the increase is required by the constitution to bolster education. Much of the rest is for projected growth in health care and welfare, and to make up for lost stimulus funds, Brown’s office said.
Republican opposition threatens to derail Brown’s plan to repair the financial strains that have left California with the biggest deficit among the U.S. states and the lowest credit rating. He wants to offset even deeper cuts to schools and the poor by retaining $9.3 billion a year in higher taxes and fees that are otherwise due to expire.(Bloomberg)
First, apparently we have to take care of the credit rating ridiculousness yet again. Put it this way, anybody laying any seeds of doubt as to whether we will pay our debt should go to Treasurer Lockyer or the Oracle of Cruickshank. Our constitution does not allow for a default. For better or worse, even if we have to cut back spending to only K-12 and debt, we would pay it. We have to.
Yet, that doesn’t stop the rating agencies from spewing their nonsense. What exactly were they doing in 2005 when their cronies were paying them for those AAA ratings on mortgage-backed securities? And yet, despite the tails of gloom, we haven’t yet defaulted, and we will not default.
The other side of this is spending, as if we should be shocked by a $111 billion budget. Let’s put it this way, we have had budgets in that range in the past. And we will have them in the future. Given our state’s size and growth, these are hardly shocking numbers. These numbers would still put us solidly in the middle of state spending per capita.
It is only this rampant Austerity Fever that has taken over this nation. Where once California and the nation grew through a philosophy of a rising tide lifts all boats, instead we have become a nation that focuses on personal wealth accumulation. We now apparently find it so repugnant to have the government band together resources to support our fellow Americans that we freak out about a really pretty reasonable level of spending.
Perhaps those days are gone by, Reaganism and its aftereffects might just have gone ahead and done in the shared vision of prosperity that we once overwhelmingly shared. It was the vision of Camelot and the Great Society. So much for that.