The first half of the 2015-2016 legislative session is now history. As we move forward, challenges remain and contentious debate about many issues is likely. Even so, there is hope for a constructive year.
Fortunately, there seems to be a growing consensus among the newer members that California’s economic problems cannot be solved by ever-increasing taxation, more stringent regulations, and overbearing centralized control from Sacramento.
Last year a group of moderate, pro-business Democrats joined with Republicans to block all tax increase proposals, including two proposed constitutional amendments that would have seriously undermined Proposition 13 protections for California’s hard working taxpayers. In addition, most of the “job killer” bills identified by the California Chamber of Commerce were blocked or defeated.
While the state’s general fund operating budget is balanced, largely as a result of the slowly improving economy and temporary tax increases that are beginning to expire, our unfunded state debt is still in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Many basic state needs, including programs for the disabled, highway infrastructure upgrades and Medi-Cal remain seriously underfunded. These issues, largely ignored during the regular budgeting process last year, were pushed off into special sessions, with no appreciable result.
In addition, the debate about inequitable enforcement of drought mandates in this region, and badly needed upgrades for the state’s increasingly inadequate water infrastructure are likely to continue, regardless of El Niño’s impact.
Looking forward, it is my hope that this year the growing bi-partisanship exhibited during 2015 will be extended to these issues, arguably the most pressing facing our state, so that they can be resolved for the benefit of all Californians.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, AD 75 – 350 W 5th Avenue #110 – Escondido, CA 92025
Phone: 760-480-7570 – Fax: 760-480-7516