On Sunday, while participating in a rally in support of Israel outside the federal building in Westwood, my former State Assemblyman Paul Koretz approached me, asking for my support in his current bid for LA City Council.Â While I wondered at the appropriateness of his campaigning at the event, I took advantage of his approach to question his fiscal record.
First, I saw his current bid for elective office undermining the whole notion of citizen legislator. Some people just have to keep running for office.
When I moved to Southern California, Koretz was serving on the West Hollywood City Council.Â In 2000, he ran for and won a seat in the California General Assembly.Â Term-limited out in 2006, he announced shortly thereafter that he was running for LA City Council–which required him to move just so he could make another bid for elective office.
So, back to his fiscal record.Â Given that California faces record budget deficits, I asked him if he had done anything to contain the size of state government.Â He mumbled something about some expenditure he had looked into or some such.Â I wondered whether he pressed the governor to dismiss the state employees hired during Gray Davis’s tenure in office, the point being that even as state revenues have declined, the size of the government has grown.
I reminded him of the difficult choices my brothers have had to make during the economic downturn, having to lay off employees so they can keep their business afloat.Â Shouldn’t a state make a similar choice if it faces a revenue shortfall?
But, for the “past eight years,” to borrow an expression, in the Golden State, our elected officials have done little to cut state spending.Â Instead of working to cut spending, Koretz introduced a resolution to impeach the president, something beyond the purview of a state legislature.
It’s not just in Washington where Democrats (and alas Republicans as well) don’t see deficits as an impediment to new government programs.
As the state faces a budget shortfall, Koretz’s Democrats have devised a plan to raise taxes by calling them “fees” so as to bypass the state’s constitution’s requirement of a two-thirds vote in the legislature to hike taxes.Â Responsible legislators would cut spending, but California Democrats want to increase it.
And this is what bothers me about so many professional politicians, particularly here in the Golden State.Â They see it as their business to keep growing government, and refuse to accept the fiscal reality that most business owners deal with on a day-to-day basis:Â when your revenues are down, you reduce your expenditures.Â
California legislators have not seen fit to cut spending.Â And our governors, even Schwarzenegger who ran against the spendthrift Davis, have let them get away with the profligacy.
The governator wouldn’t be approaching president-elect Obama with a tin cup, begging him to bailout our nearly-bankrupt state if he had done a better job of holding the line on state spending. And if our state legislators didn’t see government programs as the solution to every social programs and necessary payoffs to every interest groups.