Democrats hold every statewide office and wield supermajority power in the Legislature. Elections have consequences and many anticipated that Democrats would quickly push for more taxes, more regulations and more government.
On the first day of the legislative session, they introduced nearly 100 bills that contained more than $40 billion in proposed new spending.
Republicans may not be in the majority, but our duty as legislators is to partner where possible and speak out on excessive proposals.
There are three areas for 2019 where we hope Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and the Democrat supermajority will partner with us.
First, we must continue to keep California’s budget balanced. Republicans fought for the creation of a rainy day fund in 2014; because of that common sense budgeting and some discipline by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, we now have $16 billion in reserves to help us through the next recession.
While California is in a better position to handle an economic downturn today than it was four years ago, economic cycles are inevitable and we must continue to live within our means.
It is important to note that the budget surplus does not contemplate the billions of dollars California faces in unfunded pension liabilities and government employee health care obligations at the state and local levels.
Second, the state must ensure first responders have the resources to prevent and fight wildfires.
The recent Woolsey and Camp fires underscore the need to be vigilant and prepared.
Third, the state must fulfill existing promises to our students. For example, California’s voters in 2016 approved Proposition 51, a $9 billion bond to fund school construction.
However, only $572 million in Proposition 51 bonds have been sold according to the latest report from the state treasurer’s office, even though the Coalition for Adequate School Housing has identified $3 billion in shovel-ready classroom construction projects.
New school facilities and repairs are needed statewide. Rebuilding schools destroyed by wildfires should be prioritized.
If the state can spend billions on projects like high-speed rail, it can invest in projects that will benefit local communities now.
The governor-elect should expedite the approval of Proposition 51 funds as one of his first acts in office.
The state has other priorities that we need to address, but acting on the three priorities above would get the state off to a good start in 2019.
It would be a win-win for all Californians regardless of party.