Sunday, May 24, 2009

State Senator Tony Strickland on Wasteful Government Spending

Wasteful government spending must stop:

California Needs Zero Based Budgeting

By Senator Tony Strickland

For countless families that I represent, these tough economic times are devastating. The folks who stop me at the grocery store, talk to me at the local coffee shop and call my office tell me how state cuts have affected their families and how they worry about future cuts to vital programs like education.

On Tuesday, the people of California sent a simple and clear message to politicians. They are tired of being used as a personal ATM for runaway government spending. Californians are demanding change from the 'business as usual' crowd in Sacramento. Instead, they want real fundamental reform.

I believe California has reached a tipping point and voters of all stripes -- Democrats, Independent and Republicans -- have spoken. They rejected more of the same and instead demanded change.

With unemployment at its highest levels since the Great Depression, we must listen and enact the necessary changes that will create jobs. Jobs are the life source to California's future. Stimulating job growth is the only way to have a stable economy. That must be our No. 1 goal.
I believe we will finally get the reforms we've been waiting for because it's usually in tough times that essential change occurs. We are due for a new beginning in Sacramento.

That's why politicians must focus on budget solutions such as zero-based budgeting and reducing bureaucratic waste, fraud and abuse. Our No. 1 goal must also be job creation. Unless we do major reforms, our massive budget deficit will drive us off the cliff.

When faced with hard economic times, families try their best to stretch their household budgets. They cut back on entertainment dollars, they use coupons and they shop for the cheapest gas. Just as you and I shop for the lowest prices, legislators, too, need to budget more wisely.

That's why California needs zero-based budgeting where we open up our entire checkbook and examine every program and every expense to make sure your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely. Let's go line by line through the budget and find every penny of waste.

One way to cut the waste, fraud and abuse is by eliminating salaries from certain boards and commissions that make over $100,000 a year for one to two days worth of work a month. Instead, they should be given a $100 daily per diem for every day they work like most board members and commissioners get in California.

My bill, SB 685, which could have saved California $7,177,442 per year, would have done just that but failed in committee late last month. These boards should be the first items cut, but because they serve as soft landings for termed-out legislators, they have so far gone untouched.

However, I would like to applaud Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for including the cut to boards and commissions such as the Waste Management Board in his second proposal for the budget revision. In addition, California needs to reform its corporate tax structure so we are more in line with other states. Currently, it costs 20 percent more to do business in California. This fact alone drives local businesses and vital jobs out of our state. When we have fewer jobs, then less money is being paid into the government to help pay for vital services such as health care and education.California needs to foster a business environment that encourages innovation and the creation of new kinds of jobs entirely.

We must also focus on job growth by cutting unnecessary red tape on businesses.

By improving business competitiveness in California, we in turn encourage business development and job creation.
California must take into account real fundamental reform in order for us to regain our competitiveness and get back on the right track.
I encourage readers to call your state legislators and urge them to make the tough choices that must be made to help hard-working families.
Business as usual must change in Sacramento.

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