Wednesday, January 28, 2009

State Budget: Welfare Not The Problem

The Sacramento Bee's, Dan Weintraub, has an interesting commentary this morning. He points out that the state's social service agencies aren't really responsible for the state's current budget problems. Those programs have only grown on average about 3% per year over the last ten years. If all other state agencies had done that, we wouldn't be where we are today.

But I have to ask, as I did on the SacBee's comments for his column, if not the social service agencies, what agencies are responsible for the growth in spending? If social services are only growing on average 3%, then some other agencies have to be growing much faster than that for average state spending to be something like 8 or 9% a year.

I know I've probably posted some numbers on that here before, but don't have time to track down all of them. I did find one statistic in a post I made on August 20 of last year. According to the San Diego Union- Tribune, education spending in the state had increased 46% over the five years previous. If I'm doing my math right, that would average out to over a 9% increase each year.

Could it be that education spending increases are at least part of the problem? After all, I believe education spending takes up something like half or more of state spending, if memory serves me correct.

Yet we're having to make severe cuts in spending on schools...hmmm????

I think I'll e- mail Dan Weintraub and see if he has any insight to wherein the problem lies.


At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many expensive benefits.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we're not raising enough money to fill California's needs. The answer is not always "spend less". It would be easier if people thought government was run efficiently, but that seems like a hopeless concept.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Lodgepole wrote,"Too many expensive benefits.".

That's certainly a problem, especially for some local governments.

9:53 wrote, "Maybe we're not raising enough money to fill California's needs.".

In a sense that's true, but it's a shallow way of looking at it, imo. If spending increases exceed revenue it will be a continuous problem.

Back in 2000- as all the money from the .com boom filled state coffers- the state had all the money it needed, and then some. If they would have just increased spending in the 2000/2001 budget to account for population increases and inflation, they would of ended up with around a 10 billion dollar surplus.

As it was, they spent it all, and it wasn't just on one- time projects. I understand among the things that went on were 20,000 new state employees were hired, in other words: Permanent spending increases.

I think that goes to show the State could never have enough money to satisfy some of us. So, some propose is we need new sources of revenue.

To some extent that is true. We certainly need more stable forms of revenue. But just raising taxes without putting limits on future spending- as I've said before- would be pointless, as we'll just be raising taxes again a year or two from now to make up for the increased spending.

Without limits on spending, if we continue raising taxes over and over again, we might end up seeing a 15% state sales tax, possibly even in my lifetime. Without spending limits, I shudder to think what the sales tax would be in some of your younger folks lifetimes.

Yet, even with a 25% state sales tax, you can bet that some would say the government still needs more money.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Fred said...

As an aside, it seems to me most households make do with roughly the same income each year- sometimes more, sometimes less, but pretty much the same income.

With government- especially, it seems, California government- it seem if you don't raise spending the state will implode each year.

I'll never understand how things seemed to be running pretty smooth 20 years ago with the state budget that pales in comparison with the massive one it has now.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When people find themselves believing that the way things were in the old days were better than the way they are today, it usually means they have forgotten what what going on back then.

"The Good Old Days Weren't Half As Good as They Appear to Us Today." That's the title of a country-western song I just wrote. Wait! I mean that's the country-western song title I just wrote.

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The prson guard union is one of the most politically active in our state and spending for prisons passed up schools a long time ago.
Look into the lobbying by the CCPOA and the spending leap it has caused.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Tom Sebourn said...

Mandatory prison sentences and the continued growth of the prison system is something that needs to be addressed.
Ballot measures also inure costs that politicians have little control over.
Education is however, the number one cost of the California budget.
It's hard to believe that until Ronald Regan was Governor, college was free in this state.


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