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Jerry Brown to Cali Spendthrifts: ‘Keep Your Paws Off My Surplus’


For the first time in a decade, California is expecting a budget surplus. Governor Jerry Brown has a plan for this extra $1.1 billion: Put it all into a reserve fund, lock it up, and throw away the key. “Everybody wants to see more spending—that’s what this place is, it’s a big spending machine,” said the Governor yesterday. “But I’m the back stop.”

Brown was right: Grasping hands desperate to immediately start spending the extra dough on social services and special interest projects have predictably called the Governor’s plan “unacceptable.” But Brown is keen to avoid a financial disaster like the one that followed California’s last projected surplus ten years ago. The WSJ reports:

Mr. Brown warned that a shaky recovery of the international economy, the federal sequestration budget cuts and the expiration of a federal payroll-tax holiday are expected to weigh on California in the year ahead.

“We’re sailing into some rather uncertain times,” he said.

This is prudent thinking by a Governor who, despite the “D” next to his name, remains closer to the center politically than some of his colleagues in the legislature and even many of his supporters.

We support the Governor’s approach. Caution is the way to go for California, which still has many economic wounds to heal before indulging its prodigal impulse again.

[Governor Jerry Brown image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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  • Nick Bidler

    As a California native, color me impressed. I’d have thought Jerry would have caved long ago.

  • Jim Luebke

    Fascinating. Could you give us some details? Tax rates, spending rates, pension obligations, etc.

  • Phineas Fahrquar

    California’s “surplus” is a mirage; his budget balances only by ignoring unfunded obligations:

  • rheddles

    A rainy Day fund is the wrong way to go. California has tremendous debt outstanding and an immense unfunded pension liability. Using the surplus to reduce either is responsible. Creating a big piggy bank the teachers and prison guards legislature can raid for any spending spree it wants to conduct is irresponsible.

  • Art Metz

    I never thought I would approve of Jerry Brown as governor, and I’m still not convinced this isn’t a mirage built of accounting tricks. If it is true, then I must say: Well done, Governor!

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