Assemblyman Mike Morrell
Created: 12/15/2010 07:31:24 PM PST
As a first-time elected official, I jumped into the task of representing the constituents of the 63rd Assembly District. In my first week I attended my first budget summit hosted by Gov.-elect Jerry Brown and his economic team for state legislators and officials. I walked in with the hope of serious proposals for slashing the deficit and putting California back on the path to prosperity. I left with the sinking realization that the conversation will again turn to raising our taxes, out-of-control spending, and looking to big government for solutions.
What should have been the first step in restoring limited constitutional government looked to me to be more of the same. The briefing pointed out the obvious: We are in debt – and not just any debt, billions of dollars worth. Next year alone, California’s budget is going to be worse than this year’s, with a projected deficit of $28.1 billion. What is contributing to this incredible shortfall? Federal stimulus funds are up; one-time tax increases enacted two years ago expire; and the state has pension liabilities of up to $500 billion, to name a few reasons. The state’s spending has been reckless for years, and it looks like California is about to reap what it has sown for years, an economic meltdown.
But is this economic crisis news to Californians? Hardly. This budget briefing pointed out an obvious reality without any real answers or helpful plan of action for California. Instead, the panel emphasized their surprise at our current state. Even going so far as to indicate they didn’t know the recession was going to hit us this hard. If this doesn’t reveal how out of touch politicians are, what does?
As a lifelong entrepreneur, I know for certain that if any business owner in the private sector did what the state has done for the last several years with its fiscal projections, that person would be out of a job!
As a parent, I know the first economic lesson I taught my children was to save their money for a rainy day. These basic principles of living within our means are the principles that every California family lives by. Why has our government refused to listen to the common sense of the California people and adopted behavior that no family would encourage, no business would tolerate, and no state can afford?
If this current Legislature does get to potential solutions for California’s economic crisis, they will have to choose between one of two fundamentally different directions. Do we try to look to government by taxing more and adding to the already-burgeoning size of the state, with the hope that government officials will spend our money wisely? Or do we trust in the people of California by lowering taxes and giving them the freedom to spend their own money as they choose?
In deciding between these two alternatives, we can always look to our country’s Founding Fathers for timeless wisdom. Thomas Jefferson understood the seriousness of economics, arguing that economic decisions made by politicians of a state would have a direct effect on the happiness of its citizens. “I predict future happiness for Americans,” said Jefferson, “if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Jefferson knew that a government never uses its money as responsibly as an individual uses his or her hard-earned dollars. In fact, he argued for a direct correlation between economic responsibility and the preservation of freedom. This economic principle still applies in California today.
It’s time for the California government to remember these first principles and restore economic decision-making that protects the people. It appears that our friends across the aisle have few answers but to rely on big government with more taxes and unaccountable spending. One thing I have learned is that the people get it right before the politicians do.
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