While Democrats were given an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to creating jobs, controlling spending, and protecting our school children from predators, this session can only be described as one of “missed opportunities.”
The only reason you will hear the Governor and Democratic leaders calling this one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent history is because they are still trying to dupe you and your family into forking over billions of dollars in new taxes and fees.
What happened to all those vital California reforms we were promised? Some of the opportunities squandered in this session include:
- Pension Reform: After languishing for almost a year, a bill of partial solutions was passed that makes only minor changes around the edges of a system in need of comprehensive reform, leaving an unfunded pension liability of $240 -$500 billion untouched. Also left behind were provisions contained in the Governor’s comprehensive pension reform plan and alternatives that would have created immediate savings authored by Republicans such as hybrid plans, independent pension boards, health benefit reforms, and constitutional protections to make these changes tamper-proof. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg stated earlier that pension reform would get done and that “the proof will be in what we produce.” However, the “proof” shows much greater change is needed.
- Child Predator Reform: There has been an appalling litany of public revelations about teachers charged with lewd sexual crimes against their students in public classrooms, but union protections have kept these teachers in the classroom and on the payroll. The dismissal process can cost school districts several hundred thousand dollars and up to eight years to resolve. After introducing a bill (SB 1059) to protect our school children, the teachers’ unions convinced Democrats to kill the reform bill. Students lost not only protection from these perverts, but money that could have been spent on instruction by good teachers. As Kathleen Collins, an associate general counsel for L.A. Unified School District explained it to the Los Angeles Times: “Kids don’t have a union.”
- Budget Reform: Any attempt to curb the state’s spending machine has been paid lip service publicly and then squashed privately. How else to explain that even though Democrats wail and moan and gnash their teeth about spending cuts they’ve had to make, state spending has actually increased overall by $31.1 billion since 2007-08, when the recession began? And what about charging up the state’s credit card by another $3.7 billion for a high speed rail project with an estimated price tag of at least $68 billion.
Rather than a productive legislative session, the Democrats ruling Sacramento spent the last two years serving up a medley of missed opportunities. Instead of spending time sifting out government waste, they simply ask for more tax dollars. Instead of promoting job creation and regulatory reforms, the Democrats produced hundreds of new bills and regulations. Nothing has been done to help struggling families find work, or to convince companies and businesses to expand here in California.
Our Golden State is in desperate need of repair. Partial solutions will not fix our state and certainly will not help get Californians back to work. The people of California deserve real leadership, not another year of missed opportunities.
Follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.