(Editor’s note: Following is the text of the floor speech delivered by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff on the proposed 2014-15 California budget)
All things considered this is not a bad budget framework. There are some bills that our caucus will vote for today, and some that we won’t. We agree with many items in your budget plan – like the additional funding for K-14 education and making headway by paying down $10 billion of the $340 billion wall of debt.
We’d like to have a bipartisan budget that we can all feel good about, but this was a back-room deal negotiated by Democrats, for Democrats. There are many terrible new policies in some trailer bills that make it all but impossible to support. We may propose amendments to improve this budget, but as usual you’ll vote to block them.
Many ask what Republicans would do if we were in the majority. A Republican budget would spend less on new government programs. It would pay off more of the existing budget debt and state liabilities. It would be more fiscally responsible and we would make sure California does not return to budget deficits and fiscal crises.
We would have prioritized full enrollment growth for our UC and CSU campuses. We would address the Medi-Cal provider rates to ensure access to care for millions of Californians. We would NOT propose to expand welfare grants and hand out cash cards to convicted drug felons.
We would not continue to throw billions of dollars into the illegal high speed rail scheme that could cost $100 billion. It’s over budget, embarrassingly behind schedule, and the public doesn’t support it. Instead, we would use those bonds for school buildings and to fix our crumbling transportation infrastructure.
The biggest difference in priorities between Republicans and Democrats goes beyond the budget today. We want to restore California’s shrinking middle class that is disappearing because of your policies that are creating a state of haves and have nots.
Every time one of your constituents complains about the higher taxes and housing prices they cannot afford, remember that it’s because of land use rules and permit costs that you voted for. The expensive gas and energy bills that eat up people’s wallets are because of your rules, regulations, and lawsuits.
We have the ability to fix these things, but you don’t want to. You prefer to chase away middle class jobs and opportunities for the less educated because you think everyone can go work in Silicon Valley if they have the right government program.
You are enacting policies that make California unnecessarily expensive, drive people into poverty, and then propose new government programs to subsidize their life in poverty.
Families in poverty today don’t want another 5% in their welfare check. They want good jobs with benefits – and opportunities for their children to do even better.
That’s the real shame of this budget. That’s the missed opportunity. That’s what we would do differently.