By: Bob WIlliams
Governor Jerry Brown frequently touts his record of putting our children’s education first. During his campaign and on his website he boasts about increasing educational funding and establishing charter schools. That is why Californian’s should be appalled by his decision to hold K-12 education hostage in an attempt to fix California’s $9.2 billion budget deficit.
This dangerous game of chicken wrongfully relies on the voters approving $7 billion in temporary tax increases in November or three weeks will be slashed from the K-12 school year. Threatening to cheat our children of their educational future is not the way to ensure that the Governor gets the tax hikes he wants.
Instead of endangering educational funding, Brown’s administration should look at total state spending and prioritize spending based on actual outcomes. This is not something that is a new concept to the California legislature.
In fact, this past fall, the California legislature unanimously passed a bill that would open the door to performance-based budgeting. This bill would have required state agencies and departments to develop annual “goals, target outcomes, and performance data” to be submitted with their regular budget requests. The intended result would have enabled Gov. Brown and the legislature to better determine spending priorities based upon actual performance outcome data. This new budget system would provide legislators the opportunity to make more informed decisions about allocating limited resources. However, Gov. Brown vetoed the legislation and allowed California’s budget to continue down the rabbit hole of debt.
And while Gov. Brown may fail to recognize the potential for performance-based budgeting, former Washington State Governor Gary Locke utilized this strategy to solve a $2.8 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. He called it “Priorities of Government” and he won a national award for the new budget system.
Governor Jerry Brown must learn from others who have successful pulled their states out of the red. He needs to realize the tax increases and budget gimmicks will do nothing to help California’s budget crisis. And lastly, he needs to be a leader who implements a reasonable, rational and responsible budgeting approach.
At State Budget Solutions, we know the complexity that solving California’s budget deficit presents to Gov. Brown’s administration and the state legislature. However, playing games with our children’s education is not the answer. State Budget Solutions urges Gov. Brown to create real budget solutions that are not based on gimmicks, threats or illusions. I think we can all agree that California taxpayers deserve better than that.
Bob Williams, President, State Budget Solutions