February 10, 2011 (please forward to politicians/organizations statewide)
Ventura County Tea Party
Conejo Valley Tea Party
State Senator Tony Strickland
State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell
Dear Senator Strickland & Assemblyman Gorell:
Some of us will be at your workshop tonight. We worked on both of your campaigns and remain concerned about California. At our general meeting Feb. 2, we discussed ideas on the state budget.
Laurin Dalon moderated this fruitful discussion, which focused on what is wrong with the budget and approach. We are told that there is a $28BB gap that needs to be closed, which would be addressed via $12.5 BB in outright cuts and the rest via extending the “temporary” higher taxes now in effect and adding additional unspecified revenue enhancers. Political columnist Steve Frank says that the actual deficit is far, far higher, when certain off-balance sheet items are added in, including the hidden unfunded pension and entitlement liabilities. We fear that far too many of the cuts may be bookkeeping tricks and further damaging to the municipalities, which may be offloaded more responsibilities, without commensurate revenues. We lack details on this.
Gov. Brown seems to be protecting favored constituencies and providing us a “binary,” forced choice of higher taxes, or a “Mad Max” state (well, a slight exaggeration, but it would entail severe cuts to what we want most, while leaving certain other things intact which we would like to see cut). Unable to determine precisely what and how much the proposed tax increases are and precisely what the cuts are, we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with someone from your staff and/or get some material on that?
At our February 2nd meeting, our participants came up with several budget target areas we suggest be considered:
- Invoke stringent pension reform, including such things as defined contribution vs. defined benefit, eliminate double-dipping, and capping payouts based on time in office (20 year career and 50 year payouts are unsustainable and unearned).
- Review and break those union agreements that jeopardize the state’s ability to reach a balanced budget.
- Limit overtime to 5% of the department’s hourly payroll budget.
- Review with the goal of reducing benefits and perks.
- Reduce headcount across the board by 15% with the exception of those agencies protecting the public safety.
- Negotiate down overly constraining union-driven work rules.
- More outsourcing- construction, repair, maintenance, document processing, etc.
- Eliminate unneeded state commissions, cutting out positions, or reducing participation and pay, especially eliminate “toll taking” commissions which inhibit the creation and operation of small businesses.
- Consider some form of pre-packaged “bankruptcy” to break untenable contracts (understanding that laws may have to be changed to permit that).
- Require entitlement/benefit recipients to be legal residents.
- Aggressively prosecute employers hiring illegals.
- Encourage right to work initiatives such as no mandated union membership or dues, no statutory rates of compensation, other than state minimum wage).
There was also talk of future improvements:
- Most urgent one is to encourage business, reduce burdens, impediments, climate of anti-business hostility driving away companies and jobs. This is presumably the topic of tonight’s meeting, that we are very interested in.
- Part-time legislature
- Fiscal affordability and constitutional review of all proposed laws
It is our understanding that a 2/3 vote is required for ballot measure approval, which means 4 GOP votes are needed (Jerry Brown has said that he will only approve tax increases that are accepted by the voters). We also understand that some Liberals are attempting to push it through on a majority vote, dissembling that this is a revision, rather than a new item. Please stand firm if it appears that they are willing to risk ramming this through as a totally partisan spendathon. We all expect Jerry Brown to have some tricks up his sleeve and need the GOP voices to protect the integrity of that election.
All the talk at our meetings will accomplish nothing unless we motivate decision makers, such as yourself, to act. This is why we’re writing to you. We are encouraging our members and associates to incorporate these ideas and others in their own correspondence and blitz legislators and media with it. Any ideas you have to help focus or campaign for optimal results would be greatly appreciated.
Our next meeting is March 1st. We would really appreciate having someone from your offices address our group on what is going on and, more importantly, what we can do to promote an improvement in the budget situation. We are most grateful for your efforts in helping to constrain unrestricted expansion of government and spending. We can only imagine how difficult that is in the current environment of an opposition supermajority in the “bluest” of the “blue” states.
George Miller, for Joint Steering Committee
Feb 2, 2011 VCTP General Meeting Report