Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich had more than just criticism for Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget fixes that were published yesterday – a list of suggested solutions to solving the ongoing budget problems faced by the state, with a warning that local governments may have already too much to bear.
“Excessive spending and a bloated bureaucracy — not Proposition 13 — have created our state’s $28 billion dollar deficit,” said Antonovich. “Property tax revenues have increased from $6.4 billion dollars in 1981 to $46 billion dollars in 2008 – a 600% increase — far higher than the combined rate of population growth and inflation over the same period.”
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“This fiscal crisis provides a platform for Governor Brown to be a ‘Nixon-goes-to-China’ and take bold and decisive steps to balance the budget — rather than simply shift state mandates to local government,” said Antonovich. “True realignment is using property taxes for property-related services. Shifting state and federal mandates to local government and calling it ‘realignment’ is a Trojan horse. All non-property related services should be funded by the state — any other scheme is a recipe for fiscal chaos.”
“Savings from consolidations should be used to balance the budget not for the political spawning that was highlighted by Governor Schwarzenegger’s recent appointment of the spouse of his former chief of staff to the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board and Medical Assistance Commission at a total cost of nearly $200,000 dollars in annual salary,” he said.
“Spending available dollars and not borrowing is vital to balancing the budget,” he added. “To address the deficit, balance the budget and move California forward, the Governor should consider implementing the $32 billion in cost-saving measures over the next 5 years — as suggested in the 2,500-page California Performance Review that include:
- Consolidating the Medical Assistance Commission, with its $2.3 million dollars budget, into the Department of Health and Human Services
- Streamlining Health and Human Services eligibility to saves $4 billion dollars.
- Creating a work force plan for performance measures to save $3.3 billion dollars.
- Implementing biennial DMV vehicle registration to save $1.3 billion dollars.
- Standardizing criminal background checks in health and human services agencies and using SMART cards for Medi-Cal patients to save over $100 million dollars.
- Consolidating mental health, alcohol & drug program certification saving $75 million dollars.
- Developing strategic procurement strategies to save $850 million.
Other reforms must include:
- Eliminating and consolidating unnecessary departments and commissions
- Reforming the Civil Service system
- A 2-year budget
- Reforming the pension system
- A part-time legislature and an end to term limits
- Ending the legislative practice of bills that cost more than the recipient receives
In addition, Antonovich said, “This continued structural reform is needed to fix the ailing and dysfunctional state budget process — not band-aids that allow business as usual.”