California Governor Jerry Brown delivered a shocker: California has a balanced budget. PHOTO: Reuters
What seemed unthinkable a few months ago is now reality: California will go into 2013 without a budget deficit. Voters made this possible by approving a tax increase to help fund education (Prop 30), funneling as much as $6 billion annually into state coffers and Governor Jerry Brown took it from there. In February 2009, the deficit stood at $42 billion, and the state treasurer had difficulty selling bonds. Now that's a thing of the past, though California is still getting on its feet after the Great Recession.
The spending plan now moves to the legislature, which will surely want to make some tweaks, perhaps reinstating programs that Gov. Brown cut out. Here's some unsolicited advice: let those tweaks happen. A deficit-less California is an amazing thing, but even better would be a small deficit and excellent public health programs. Education will receive more money after years of brutal cuts and tuition increases. California has much to gain by restrengthening its state programs keeping the budget within a prudent range.