Yesterday’s news that Democrats were considering borrowing to balance the budget, specifically the plan to raid transportation and local government funds, brought a vigorous response from Democratic leaders in the legislature. Don Perata, Karen Bass, and John Laird all issued statements claiming to not support budget borrowing, although the parsing of the words matters.
Today’s Los Angeles Times story about state budget negotiations is inaccurate and misleading. Democrats have never entertained massive borrowing as a solution to this year’s budget problem. In particular, Democrats have never advocated nor believed in taking money from Propositions 1A, 42 and 10.”…
“Doing another get-out-of-town-alive budget would do nothing to help this state but rather would endanger Californians’ standard of living and economic future.”
Denise Ducheny chimed in with her own statement along these lines, and later in the day Bass and Laird added their stance. Karen Bass:
“Major borrowing is not part of the Democratic budget plan, and we don’t believe it should be part of the final solution. Our proposal balances the budget with a mix of billions of dollars in difficult spending cuts and new revenues, similar to those proposed by a previous Republican governor. It’s gimmick-free and honest. It closes our budget gap in a straight-forward manner, and eliminates out-year deficits.”
Any proposal to borrow from voter-approved propositions is not coming from those of us who want to balance the budget without borrowing or gimmicks.
Strong words – but nowhere in them did anyone explicitly rule out borrowing from the transportation and local government funds. It’s comforting to know that Democrats did not propose these plans and that they do not wish to use budget gimmicks – but a firm rejection of the plans is what we really needed to hear.
Sure, some might say we should not be negotiating in public. But if Republicans get to say “no new taxes” then surely Democrats are able to say “no new raids.” As I argued yesterday raiding these funds would not only cause the state serious economic harm, but it would severely weaken the Democrats’ political fortunes in the process.
Californians’ opinion of the Legislature is low, and many don’t trust their politicians. That gives the right wing a major opening to push through damaging things in the guise of populism. Democrats need to stand up to Republicans and protect working Californians. Refusing to even consider raiding the Prop 1A, 10, and 42 funds is a small but necessary place to start.