Last week Senate President Pro Tempore Perata accused Senate Republicans of being "fiscal terrorists" by holding up the budget. This terrorist act is in Perata’s view the utterly despicable desire to have the State of California spend no more money than it brings in. Oh the horror! Until then we never figured the state budget would be a new front of the war on terror.
"Terrorism" is defined in Meriam-Webster as a systematic state of terror or intense fear. It is always associated with acts or threats of extreme violence — often on a grand scale. For holding the line on spending and demanding fiscal discipline fiscal conservatives in the Senate are being equated to suicide bombers.
Of course Perata’s choice of words is silly. It has been weeks since we’ve seen either minority leaders Dick Ackerman or Mike Villines wearing a vest made of explosives.
While taxpayers might be "terrified" of tax-and-spend politicians like Perata we doubt he or his kind would engage in acts of violence. Surely he knows better than to level that charge at taxpayer friendly legislators. The reality is actually fairly simple. The budget proposed by Senate Republicans cuts $824 million dollars enough to ensure that California starts the fiscal year spending what it took in. Most families who want to maintain a good credit score and some semblance of the American Dream believe in this measure of fiscal discipline.
The real charge against the Republicans is that they are acting on the realization that putting off the day of fiscal reckoning will inflict far more damage than if we put it off even longer. For this they are irresponsible? Hardly.
Moreover when asked to identify what programs they would cut the minority party quickly identified tens of millions of dollars of wasteful spending. The examples of potential cost savings aren’t even controversial; they are better classified as no-brainer stuff. And yet Perata and company continue to balk.
While not rising to the level of true terrorism an unreformed budget will sooner or later put the average Californian in a perpetual state of fear. If Senate Republicans are not successful the current $700 million fiscal year deficit combined with decreased revenue across the economy could add billions of dollars to the structural budget deficit next year. Taxpayers fear the debt we are carrying forward to the next generation. We fear $50 billion of unfunded pension liabilities that we have not begun to pay off. We fear billions of dollars of bond debt and interest payments most of it going to fund existing maintenance and not new construction of the roads or dams so important to this growing state. We fear our state’s credit cards sagging under the debt of this Legislature’s misplaced priorities.
Perata the bureaucrats and all those who feed off taxpayer dollars must be made to understand that they in fact are the ones holding the state hostage by not showing any sort of fiscal restraint. Taxpayers shouldn’t fear a late budget; they should fear what will be left to their children because of out-of-control spending. A mandatory government exaction of perhaps $100 billion dollars of bond and pension debt looms on the horizon yet this Legislature still is not able to live within its means for just one fiscal year.
This is what leads to an intense state of fear among taxpayers.
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest taxpayer organization — which is dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and promoting taxpayers’ rights.