Local Government
Commentary: The Need for Restraint in Spending

Commentary: The Need for Restraint in Spending

By La Mirada City Councilman Andrew Sarega.

After increasing gasoline taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and adding billions in new fees and paper work costs to our local businesses, California’s state officials are now coming up with a variety of new ways to spend the $7.5 billion in extra tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

To put this in perspective, Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable wrote:

Since Fiscal Year 2009, state taxes, fees and other charges have increased by $10 billion a year, now totaling $72 billion more in all. Of that increase, $26 billion is due to higher fees, special taxes and other charges shifted to special funds.

This increased revenue, the Legislature argued, was to stave off severe cuts during the recession. Clearly, the recession is over — and not a single fee, special tax or other revenue increase has been cut.

As the state’s tax revenues continue growing, employee pension costs will continue taking a larger share of the budgets of our local governments. If nothing is done to slow down this pension crisis, in the next few years, countless cities will find themselves in bankruptcy court.

We need to remember that increasing contribution rates for pension costs means less money we can spend on schools, parks, libraries and roads. It means shutting down fire stations, having to lay off staff and ending essential local programs.

With a termed out Governor, the end of the legislative session and a new set of elections, these next few months will be critical for the future of our local communities. We need to encourage our state representatives use restraint by paying off old debt and putting some money away for when our economy takes the next dip.

California’s Legislature should forget about legislation such as Senate Bill 10, which seeks to end monetary bail in California by imposing a new $2 billion – $3.5 billion cost on local governments, or Senate Bill 562, the single payer health care bill that has a price tag that is four-times our current state budget. If we don’t have the money or can’t sustain the costs should the economy slip, we shouldn’t be adding to the debt.

Andrew Sarega is a city councilman in La Mirada, CA. He is also a former law enforcement officer with the city of Newport Beach, CA.

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