Budgetary prudence

By From page A4 | January 15, 2014

“Wisdom and prudence would be the order of the day,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. That has a good ring to it. The governor plans to set aside $1.6 billion for a “rainy day fund” out of a $154.9 billion budget he proposed for the state in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2015.  The General Fund portion of this budget is $106.8 billion.

Brown’s budget proposal includes $11 billion to reduce state debt.

K-12 education is pegged for a 9.5 percent increase and higher education would get a 10.8 percent increase with no tuition increase.

The judicial branch would get a 5.6 percent increase. Transportation would get a 40.4 percent increase. Actual highway spending of $877 million will go up 7.7 percent.

Overall the General Fund would go up 8.5 percent, including $1.5 billion towards paying off “Economic Recovery Bonds.”

Not included in the governor’s proposal is a major new program state Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg wants — transitional kindergarten. That seems to be a fad with Democrats. New York City’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio, wants to tax all those making $500,000 or more to pay for universal preschool. So far, nobody has been able to show any long-term improved outcome from children who participated in Head Start. Transitional kindergarten is just another social program of unproven value that is taking money away from improving the highway system, bridges and eliminating dangerous at-grade railroad crossings.

We give the governor good marks for making expanding water storage capacity a goal, even though he is mainly talking about groundwater supplies.

“Continue to provide incentives encouraging investments in local and regional water infrastructure and better integration of local and regional efforts that will have multiple benefits and make communities more resilient and self‐reliant,” the governor wrote in his key actions.

This augurs well for the El Dorado County Water and Power Agency’s goal of obtaining 40,000 acre-feet of area-of origin water rights from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and selling that to Sacramento County to bank in its groundwater reservoir. This regional cooperation enables El Dorado County to obtain the area-of origin water rights sooner before the Delta Planning Council and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan create pressure against El Dorado’s area-of-origin water rights, though part of this water could be used for fisheries enhancement.

Additionally, selling the water would provide an income source that would both pay for water system capital improvements here as well as keep water rates down. As the county grows, more of the water would be retained by El Dorado County.

In summary, there is quite a bit to like in the governor’s budget. Let’s hope he sticks to his guns on that. We don’t want another Gray Davis, who promised fiscal restraint and then rolled over for the Democratic Legislature in short order.

Mountain Democrat

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