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Tony Strickland: The people have spoken, but will politicians listen?

SCV Voices

Posted: May 26, 2009 8:28 p.m.
Updated: May 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Voters overwhelming voted down Proposition 1A on the May 19 Special Election which would have extended the crippling $16 billion tax increases on all Californians.

Their message to politicians is simple and clear. The people of California 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 am optimistic that we will finally get the reform we’ve been waiting for because it’s usually in tough times that essential change occurs. I believe California has reached a tipping point and voters of all stripes — Democrats, Independents and Republicans — have sent a message loud and clear.

With unemployment at its highest levels since the great depression, we must listen and enact the necessary changes that will create jobs. We are due for a new beginning here in Sacramento.

That’s why I believe the government must be focused on budget solutions such as job creation and zero-based budgeting. We should also do away with unnecessary boards and commissions.

Unless we do major reforms, our massive budget deficit will drive us off the cliff.

First of all, the cost of business in California is 20 percent higher than in other states. This fact alone drives local businesses and vital jobs out of our state. When we have fewer jobs, less money is being paid into the government to help pay for vital services such as health care and education.

California needs to reform its tax structure so that it is more in line with other states. By improving business competitiveness in California we in turn encourage business development and job creation.

Second, when families have financial problems they open their entire checkbook and look at what expenses they can cut. It may be not eating out as much, not going to the movies, or holding off on future vacations. The point is, families open up their entire checkbook and make the hard decisions and tough sacrifices necessary so that they can weather the storm and keep food on the table.

If families can make the tough decisions, why can’t California’s politicians? 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 that hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely. Let’s go line by line through the budget and find every penny of waste.

Third, we must cut wasteful spending by eliminating salaries from certain boards and commissions that make more than $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 the Senate Government Organization Committee late last month.

These boards should be the first items cut because they serve as soft landings to termed-out legislators. It’s unfair for hard-working families to pay for lawmakers to have these cushy jobs for when they are termed out. If legislators can’t make the easy choices by eliminating outlandish salaries for boards and commissions, it’s unfair for them to look at cuts to education and health care.

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 you 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.

Tony Strickland is a Republican senator for California’s 19th Senate District, which includes portions of the Santa Clarita Valley. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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