Editorials

Thursday, Apr 07 2011 11:01 PM

EDITORIAL: Some lawmakers making budget problems worse

By The Bakersfield Californian

Knock it off already. We know you want to be seen as actually doing something, but if it puts a bigger hole in the state budget, unless voters have already OK'd it, now is not the time.

You'd think it wouldn't be necessary to point this out to state legislators, but sadly we must. Even as lawmakers struggle to close an estimated $26.6 billion gap, many of those same elected officials are attempting to widen California's budget deficit with bills that would either increase spending or diminish revenue. Democrats and Republicans alike -- but mostly Democrats -- are guilty.

Some bills would create programs or assign duties to state and local agencies that are already trying to do more with less, most having laid off workers or reduced services. Most if not all of those proposed programs and duties are very much worthy of support. But a spending crisis is not the time to spend more.

Other measures would establish various tax credits and exemptions, despite the fact that state tax revenue is down almost 7 percent from three years ago. No doubt most if not all of those tax credits would be a shot in the arm for the targeted industries. But a revenue crisis is not the time to turn away revenue.

State legislators have written fewer bills than is typical for this time of year, so we've seen a little progress. Members of the Assembly have introduced just over 1,500 bills, down from 1,800-plus in 2007. The number of Senate bills is down from 1,165 in 2007 to 1,005. But, typical of any year, about two-thirds have been classified as having a possible fiscal impact, either in terms of new spending or reductions in revenue.

That doesn't work in 2011-12, with many essential services on life support, higher education in trouble, and the middle class bearing most of the brunt. Knock it off already, Legislature. Fix our budget problems, don't worsen them.

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