Opinion: Will the last fiscal conservative in California turn the lights out when you leave?


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Yes, there are Californians not named Tom McClintock who are worried about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move from budget-cutter to government-enabler. Such as the grumps from the formerly Schwarzenthusiastic Reason Foundation, who have taken to use the G-D word, by which I mean Gray Davis:

Fiscal conservatives are facing the sad truth that the governor they supported has actually increased state spending more than the governor they ousted. Since Schwarzenegger assumed office, general fund spending has increased by an astonishing 31 percent. As Sen. Tom McClintock reports, Schwarzenegger’s annual rate of spending increase has been 7.9% compared with Davis’ 7.1%. On top of that, the state’s debt service, the percentage of the state budget dedicated to just paying off debt, will increase to 8 percent next year, up from 3 percent only three years ago, and will ratchet up more in coming years as more bonds are approved.


More gloom, after the jump.

The Reasonistas continue:

When the governor commissioned his comprehensive California Performance Review in 2004, we thought we were getting a results-driven governor. 2,000 pages later, you could literally count on one hand the number of major CPR initiatives that have actually been pursued and none have been the big money saving exercises including selling unneeded state assets, realigning the bureaucracy to cope with the expected wave of state worker retirements (doing more with less), or eliminating unneeded boards, commissions and sundry other state entities. Over the past few years, Schwarzenegger has learned that reforming a state government as large as California’s is very difficult. And it appears he has become content to commit the same crime of pushing problems off into the future with a flurry of new state borrowing, overly optimistic budgets, and a disregard for the painful reality that California will eventually face a downturn in the business cycle. When it does the pain will certainly be more pronounced than anyone in Sacramento is prepared to admit.