California Gov. Jerry Brown has gotten mad props for proposing a balanced budget for the Golden State's next fiscal year (which starts in July). This is a budget that Brown is touting for its toughness but in fact would raise spending by 5 percent from last year. California figures to spend $93 billion in the fiscal year ending in July. After voters approved tax hikes in November, Brown is calling for spending $97.7 billion over 2012-2013.
Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, the L.A.-based nonprofit that publishes this website, is not impressed. He writes in the Orange County Register:
Gov. Brown stumped vigorously for the Proposition 30 tax hikes, saying, "You vote for Prop. 30, you know you're getting six to eight billion dollars pumped into California schools." Yet his proposed budget spends just $2.7 billion out of the $6 billion tax hike on schools. The rest goes to state workers' pay. Gov. Brown compounds this sleight of hand by then proposing to spend Prop. 39's $1 billion in new taxes raised on schools, even though the law clearly says that money has to go to "green energy" projects.
Gov. Brown's budget is not balanced and will not reduce the debt. It doesn't even use the new tax money voters just approved as they were promised. In May, voters will likely be told that "unforeseen" circumstances have caused another round of budget woes.
And while you're checking out the OCR website, read this piece about California's interest in raising the state's minimum wage by another Reason Foundation policy analyst, Adam Summers. At $8 an hour, the state's minimum wage is already higher than the federal one (which is $7.25) and California has a 9.8 unemployment rate, two full percentage points over the national average.