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We're not budget obstructionists

September 06, 2008|David Cogdill | David Cogdill (R-Modesto) is the Republican leader in the state Senate.

Recently, it's been asserted that Republicans, "stuck in their ideology," are unduly holding up the California state budget by refusing to compromise on tax increases.

This impasse is hardly an ideological exercise for me or for most of my Republican colleagues in the Legislature. On the contrary, we understand that the budget is about as real as it gets in Sacramento. That's why we've been consistently advocating a common-sense approach to resolving the state's chronic budget deficits without raising taxes.

We've suggested education reforms that would free school districts from burdensome mandates imposed at the state level. We've put forward proposals to stimulate the economy by providing workers with flexible workweeks. We've proposed strengthening the California Whistleblower Protection Act to encourage more state employees to report inappropriate or inefficient government operations.

We've promoted efforts to maximize every taxpayer dollar, such as selling off hundreds of thousands of dollars in surplus properties. We've advocated for transparency in state government spending so taxpayers can see precisely how their money is being allocated. We've recommended that the state find more ways to partner with private industry to accomplish vital public works projects more efficiently.

None of the budget priorities we've outlined is an example of rigid ideology trumping the spirit of bipartisan compromise. Nor, especially, is our insistence that this budget be balanced with existing revenues and not on the backs of taxpayers.

I've said as much before, it makes no sense -- common, business or otherwise -- to raise taxes during a downturn in the economy. Yet the budget proposal that's been floated by the governor would "temporarily" raise the sales tax by 1 cent for three years. That would increase the cost of living just as Californians are straining their budgets trying to keep food on the table and gasoline in the tank. And, at some extremes, homeowners are trying to fend off foreclosure.

It's been said that this tax proposal is "a way of compromising." How true. But it's not the cooperative kind of compromise we all learn as children or even the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" form of political compromise all too familiar in Sacramento. It's a compromise of principles at the expense of taxpayers, and it's frankly disappointing.

Common sense is not an ideology. It is what our constituents expect us to use when we're deciding how to spend their money. In doing so, we are not behaving as entrenched ideologues but as public servants, acting in the best interests of taxpayers who have more than enough factors eating into their own budgets without Sacramento taking another pass at their wallets.

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