Ah, what informed and literate readers visit this happy Corner. As you may recall, 48 hours ago I asked for information concerning a) California’s budget, b) the state’s population, and c) just how big the deficit would be if Gray Davis had only increased spending by the same amount as the increase in the population. I’ve received half a dozen emails that make the answers clear.
For detailed information on the budget, take a look at the state’s own website–you’d think the administration of Governor Davis would be too embarrassed to publish the numbers, but there they are, in all their brazenness, for the world to examine, at. And for detailed information on the population, take a look at the Rand website, ca.rand.org (subscription required). There are all kinds of ways of playing with these numbers, of course–was it Disraeli who said there are lies, damned lies, and statistics?–but the general point is quite clear: Davis outspent the growth in population by an amount that was truly enormous and obviously unsustainable. Revenues shot up during Davis’s first term, largely as a result of the Internet bubble. But danged if Davis didn’t find a way to outspend the growth in revenues, too.
As my friend John Fund put it in one of his recent columns for the Wall Street Journal Online (and I’m indebted to a reader for sending this along, as also to John, obviously, for getting to his homework before I got to mine):
“California’s general budget grew by an average of 9.4% a year from fiscal 1997 through 2002. Revenues grew dramatically too–by 27% during Mr. Davis’s first term. But spending went up 36% during the same period. If the state had only held spending growth to the increase in population and inflation, it would be enjoying a $5.5 billion surplus now.”
What we need here in California isn’t a recall (although I’m a lot less pessimistic about the recall than most). What we need is a constitutional amendment–just like the one in Colorado that John Miller describes below.
Darryl Issa, call your office.