As some Republican elected officials praised Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal for its fiscal discipline, the main GOP candidates vying to take him on in the fall argued Tuesday that it fails to address the state’s most pressing problems.
"Nothing in this budget revise will address California's epidemic of unemployment, failing schools and crumbling infrastructure," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, the front-runner among Republican contestants, said in a statement.
Donnelly faulted Brown for proposing to increase spending on education and Medi-Cal, California’s healthcare program for the poor.
"Gov. Jerry Brown just committed the earnings of our children and our children's children to fuel this insatiable growth of government, which will prove over time to be unsustainable,” he said. “Instead of securing the future of Californians, the governor's actions have put them and their children's future at even greater risk."
Candidate Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and banker, also faulted the proposal, with its $107.8-billion general fund, as flawed.
“Once again, Jerry Brown is crossing his fingers and hoping for a roaring stock market to deal with California’s unfunded liabilities. Hope is not a strategy,” said Kashkari, who just donated $1 million of his own money to his gubernatorial bid.
“We need honest leadership and realistic forecasts to bring Californians together to solve our long-term fiscal challenges and rebuild the middle class,” Kashkari said.
Brown unveiled a spending blueprint featuring $1 billion more for healthcare alone than was included in his January proposal. He also laid out plans to increase investment in the state’s pension liabilities.
In contrast to their possible standard-bearers in the November election, some Republicans praised the Democratic governor’s plan.
State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) applauded Brown for highlighting the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.
“The governor’s revised budget shows necessary restraint in spending, allowing us to continue to pay down debt,” he said in a statement.
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, who has endorsed Kashkari, praised Brown for prioritizing fiscal responsibility but argued that the budget is too large and objected to Brown’s continued support of a costly high-speed rail system.
"Overall, I think this is a pretty good budget plan and I hope the Democrats don't undermine the effort to be fiscally responsible by adding billions in pork spending,” Huff concluded. “It's up to the governor to hold the line against his party."
The Legislature is required to pass a budget by June 15, and it would take effect July 1.