March 23, 2010 — It’s no secret, and it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone living in Lassen County — the state of California faces a fiscal crisis of frightening and historic proportions that’s not likely to be resolved any time soon. While legislators, politicians and pundits try to place the blame and offer possible stopgap solutions, most of them ignore the simple, down - to - earth reality faced by every household in the state trying to balance its checkbook and keep food on the table and every business leader from San Ysidro to Fort Dick struggling to stay in business and make payroll every week. You can’t spend money you don’t have.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, California’s revenue/expenditure shortfall will grow to about $20 billion when the new fiscal year begins on July 1, and even in the unlikely event California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the entire $6.9 billion he wants from the federal government, the gap still remains at a devastating high level.
Last year the state issued IOUs to contractors, furloughed state workers, froze spending on public works projects, enjoyed the lowest credit rating of any state in the union and raised taxes and fees on citizens and businesses alike.
The budget crisis continues despite an estimate from the California Budget Project that the American Recovery and Investment Act pumped $85 billion of federal stimulus money into the state’s economy last year, and in the last two years, the state has cut $18 billion from its general fund, affecting public schools, higher education and public health programs. Why right here in Susanville, the state has yet to pay a single penny of its share of school construction costs for projects at three local schools.
The out – of – control spending needs to stop. Granted, Lassen County has a real need for a new courthouse, and even though the state budgeted $39 million for the proposed new facility before this fiscal crisis hit the state, it’s a luxury we can’t afford at this time. We simply don’t have the money.
We should put the new courthouse project on hold until the economic climate improves or reduce its total cost and come up with a more modest facility we can pay for. Hard times require hard decisions, and now, more than ever, we should be as fiscally conservative and responsible as possible.
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