Grove, Fong respond to gov. budget

By REBECCA NEIPP

News Review Staff Writer

With the Jan. 10 unveiling of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget, feedback from elected officials indicate that the economic outlook and priorities for the Golden State continue to be divided along partisan lines,.

“As 2020 begins, California’s economy is the strongest in the nation, with a gross domestic product of nearly $3 trillion, representing the fifth largest economy in the world,” according to the introduction.

The proposed budget weighs in at $222 billion — a significant increase from last year’s $208B proposal and the $215B final passed last summer. While the introduction further states that “California’s economic growth has fueled the nation’s economy, which has been growing for a record 126 months,” conservatives continue to express concern over the ballooning expenditures from the state government.

“The budget is more spending with little accountability,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong. “We must do a better job of investing every dollar that comes from every Californian to ensure the effective use of taxpayer dollars and live within our means.”

The introduction to the budget overview (available at www. ebudget.ca.gov/budget/2020-21/#/

BudgetSummary) continues by noting that California’s growth has fueled the nation’s economy, which has been growing for a record 126 months. The state unemployment rate has settled from 12.2 percent at the peak of the recession to 3.9 percent.

However, budget architects say that even with the presently strong economy, global economic markets and the national political climate indicate uncertainty in future growth.

“Further, the state’s strong economy has not lifted all Californians,” continues summary literature. “Economic inequality persists between regions of the state and for many within the state’s more prosperous regions.”

The budget overview identifies access to health care and housing as the top priorities in addressing California’s affordability crisis.

However, conservative legislators continue to cite increasing taxes and onerous regulations as driving up costs of fuel, food and other living expenses.

“Too much of this budget is out of touch with everyday Californians,” said State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

“More than 50 percent of Golden State residents are already fleeing because Democrats have imposed high costs on too many basic necessities.

“The governor offers a lot of new programs, but it’s time to get back to the basics, such as lowering the cost of living, ensuring safe communities, providing high-quality education and serving the disabled.

She commended Newsom for continuing to add to the state’s Rainy Day Fund — a Republican-supported allotment of money set-aside for eventual economic downturns.

She said she was also pleased to see better contingencies for emergency preparedness and forest management.

“Another immediate priority must be tackling the out-of-control homelessness crisis that we all agree on, but California needs to be smart about it,” said Grove.

“The state has provided significant investments on this issue over the last several years, yet the homeless population dramatically increased in California. Instead of addressing the root causes of homelessness — such as mental health and drug abuse — the Democrats have poorly prioritized their spending.”

Grove also criticized the Democrat-driven AB5, which she said “limits worker’s freedom, despite the pleans from so many industries to fix the law.

“This is a clear case of poor prioritization. We should be using this funding to house Californians instead of preventing them from earning an income the way they choose.”

(See also related article on Page 2, and Op Ed on Page 4.)

“This record budget continues to shortchange fundamental water infrastructure, reliable energy production, traffic congestion relief and relief for hardworking middle-class families facing a severe affordability crisis,” said Fong.

“We must get back to the basics and provide commonsense solutions for the problems Californians are rightfully upset about every day. We can no longer ignore the worsening quality-of-life issues – whether it’s homelessness, housing costs or rising crime in our neighborhoods. California needs a new direction.”

For the next few months, the state legislature will negotiate with the governor’s office to refine the proposal. Those compromises will be incorporated in the governor’s May Revise, and the legislature has until June 15 to approve the final package.

Story First Published: 2020-01-17