Editorial: Special election simply passes the buck
Be careful when you vote in the May 19 California special election. While each ballot item should be considered on its own merit, voters should understand our elective leaders are, in reality, passing the buck on a $15.4 billion budget deficit.
Californians will vote May 19 on a package of budget-related measures that would create a state spending cap; extend a series of income, sales and vehicle tax increases; authorize borrowing from future lottery proceeds; and transfer money from children’s and mental health programs to the state’s general fund.
Creating a realistic annual budget for our state government is one of the priorities asked of our elected leaders, but they have failed to do so for years. And it is not getting any better. There is no way to tackle a $21.3 billion shortfall by borrowing a few billion from the lottery and robbing health care programs. In this case, the cart is well before the horse.
Massive changes, including eliminating entire branches of our state government, should be addressed first so voters understand the entire context of what these smallish ballot items mean. Without massive reform from the legislature, the voters would only be approving a short-term, fractional fix that still leaves the state in financial peril.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, probably didn’t mean to, but she represented our state government’s sluggish response the best this week: “I don’t know how you close a $21 billion deficit,” she told The Associated Press. “I fear it’s going to lead to tens of thousands of teachers losing their jobs and schools literally closing. Everything is going to be back on the table.”
As a reminder to all the legislature, including Bass: Schools are already closing, and thousands of teachers are already losing their jobs. This current budget issue is no different than the last; we, as a state, have to drastically cut spending. But nobody is willing to risk their political career to suggest these cuts, so they pass the buck to the voter.
Meanwhile, the problem still doesn’t get solved.
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