PCOC - Spring 2014 - (Page 28)

state capitol Report Happy Days are Here Again By Dominic DiMare, Legislative Advocate & Darrell Ennes, PCOC Legislative Committee Chair What a difference a budget surplus makes. On Jan. 6, legislators rolled back into town and took up the business of the 2014 Legislative session. Unlike in previous years where the return of legislators was heralded by a pre-session angst around ongoing budget deficits and anxious hand wringing as to where additional budget cuts would fall, this year's return was almost serene. In fact, the first week back felt as if it were a soft opening of a restaurant with little to no fanfare or promotion. The only event that provided any sort of excitement was the anticipated release of Gov. Edward G. Brown Jr.'s proposed budget and it wasn't even the budget itself that provided the drama but the fact that it was leaked which forced the governor to make a formal presentation a day earlier than planned. So why such a lackadaisical attitude in Sacramento you ask? I can give you six and a half billion reasons for legislators and the governor to be so relaxed; California has a budget surplus of $6.5 billion. It is our first budget surplus in a decade. The last time we had a budget surplus Gray Davis was governor, and to their credit legislative leaders and the governor remember what happened to that surplus and that governor. The Legislature went on a spending spree like a bunch of drunken sailors and Gov. Davis got recalled. Gov. Brown is not going to make the same mistake and to that end he put the Legislature and public on notice that he will not be spending our surplus freely. "Parsimony" is the governor's magic word for 2014. In his State of the State address on Jan. 22, the governor said; "...we can't go back to 'business as usual.'" Boom and bust is our lot and we must follow the ancient advice, recounted in the Book of Genesis, that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow." Gov. Brown went on to say, "We will pay down our debts and remember the lessons of history." The governor's proposed Budget is consistent with his words. The budget document proposes paying down the state's debt by paying off various bonds that have been passed over the years and sets aside $1.6 billion in a reserve account. The big winners in the budget include K-12 and higher education, which see an increase of 9.5 and 10.8 percent respectively. Health and Human Services gets a very modest 1.6 percent increase and Labor and Workforce Development and Government Organization both see budget decrease of 10.1 and 9.0 respectively. The Governor allocates $1.5 billion to repaying Economic Recovery Bonds along with the set aside for a reserve. As one would expect, there are many Democratic legislators that desire more spending on social, environmental and labor programs while Republicans had wanted more money allocated to paying off debt and increasing the reserve. However, in the early days after the release of the budget, criticism was very reserved and muted. It is hard to quibble with a governor who enjoys a nearly 60 percent approval rating. It is important to keep in mind that this is merely the opening round of the www.pcoc.org / Spring 2014 28 budget process that culminates the end of June. In the ensuing months the governor will release a revised proposal in May and the Legislature (actually really only the Democrats in both houses), will put their imprint on the budget. It is almost certain that great pressure will be brought to bear on the governor to increase spending on environmental, social safety net and other programs close to the hearts of Democrats. Since passing the budget requires only a simple majority and as the Democrats have a super majority in both houses, the Republicans will be relegated to observer status and will play effectively no role in the budget process. With the budget seemingly lacking in any sort of drama this year, one might look to the looming leadership changes for drama, but as of this writing there is no drama to be found. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the Senate Pro Tem, and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) are both at the end of their term limited tenures as legislators and will both be abdicating their leadership posts. Sen. Steinberg has announced that he will remain at his post until late summer http://www.pcoc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PCOC - Spring 2014

President’s Message
Martyn’s Corner
Beyond the Bugs: A Conversation with Michael F. Potter
Equipment Financing & Leasing: An Important Tool for Business Growth
Maximize Our Presence at PCOC’s 2014 Legislative Days
Federal Update
Small Employer Responsibilities Under Health Care Reform Act
Happy Days are Here Again
Corky’s Pest Control
Index to Advertisers
Advertiser.com

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