Spendaholics Anonymous?

Spendaholics Anonymous?

John_Pérez_2011State legislators are pledging they won't spend all the windfall of new revenue produced by the economic recovery and the Proposition 7 tax increase. AP reported:

State lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday for the second half of their two-year session, one that is expected to be marked by conflicts over spending or saving a budget surplus that was unthinkable just a couple of years ago.

Members of the Assembly and Senate appeared jovial during their opening sessions, but many were looking ahead to Friday, when Gov. Jerry Brown releases his budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts in July.

The independent Legislative Analyst's Office is projecting a $3.2 billion surplus, the first one in years, and many Democratic constituencies have their eye on the money after years of cuts to state programs. Several Democratic lawmakers already are advocating for higher spending on certain programs, although the party's leadership is preaching a more conservative approach.

Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said his top priority will be securing California's fiscal stability.

“The cornerstone of that has to be creating a rainy day fund so we do not replicate the patterns of spending and bust of the past,” Perez said after Monday's session.

But will they be able to hold back, especially in an election year when voting special interests come calling for more cash? That didn't happen during previous boom times, including 1989-90, 1999-2000 and 2005-06.

Each time, the Legislature spent more than was prudent. “Rainy day” funds were puddles. And the next recession brought back the deficits and even more tax increases.

Perhaps the Legislature should turn itself into a large, 120-member Spendaholics Anonymous Meeting.

First Step: “We admitted we were powerless over spending — that our state budget had become unmanageable.”

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Tags assigned to this article:
budgetJerry BrownJohn PerezJohn Seiler

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