Newsom vows to spend big, reform little

 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year is big, at over $200 billion in general fund spending alone, but it largely offers more of the same. Bigger, costlier government and relatively few calls for reform.

It should not be lost on anyone that the $213 billion in proposed general fund spending comes thanks to the high taxes that Californians pay.

There are certainly some good ideas and proposals in the budget.

Newsom’s budget proposal provides for some small business relief, including certain fee waivers.

It provides relief to restaurants by ensuring that federal aid provided to restaurants isn’t subject to state taxation.

It calls for paying down unemployment insurance debt to the tune of $3 billion.

And it even includes a delay on implementation of the scheduled inflation-adjusted increases to the gas tax scheduled for July.

These are all positive developments that will provide aid to Californians and California business owners still in the process of rebuilding their businesses and lives.

However, proposals like this do implicitly acknowledge the unavoidable reality that Californians are overtaxed and overburdened with state-imposed costs.

At a time when Democrats in the Legislature and others are still busy dreaming up new taxes, cost mandates and ways of gutting Proposition 13,  it is difficult then to give the governor too much credit.

Still, we’ll take what we can get and will credit the governor accordingly.

In his Monday budget presentation, Newsom indicated some other fairly promising ideas.

These include his calls for broader investments in California’s behavioral health system and aiding cities in clearing encampments with the goal of finding places for homeless individuals to live and get support.

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Here, too, there are opportunities for Newsom to deliver tangible and beneficial solutions to the tragic situation in cities across California. We will be following this development closely.

On the point of housing, Newsom hinted at the prospect of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act.

“We are working … to see if those reforms can take shape,” he said. We hope these efforts are successful. This editorial board has long supported reforms to reduce the use of CEQA as a tool to simply obstruct housing and other developments that opponents don’t like. That’s not the purpose of CEQA.

On the education front, Newsom noted that under his budget proposal, per pupil state education spending under Proposition 98 will have doubled in the last decade.  In total, state spending will approach $21,000 per pupil.

“If we’re going to double an investment, we want to see reform, we want to see outcomes improve,” Newsom said.

While we certainly agree with that and can imagine plenty of reforms and ways of improving the education system, Newsom went on to lay out his idea of reform: throwing more money into the status quo.

If the stagnant educational outcomes of the past decade have shown anything, it’s that keeping the K-12 system subject to the influence of Newsom’s teachers union allies is the problem. Regrettably, it’s a status quo that Newsom has no interest in actually reforming.

Stay tuned. We’ll be keeping watch as the budget process unfolds.

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Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

      

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