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Orange County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

Reducing the Size of Government

By Tom Harman

Candidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 67

This information is provided by the candidate
Rather than living in the State of California, sometimes I think that the Democrats are living in the State of Denial. When Governor Gray Davis signed the 2002-2003 budget, he condemned us all to an $8 billion deficit. Signs of this impending crisis have been apparent for a long time.

During the past three years, spending at the state level has increased at seven times the rate of population growth. While the population of California increased by 5%, general fund spending increased 37%. This is hardly proportionate. If we look at personal income during this period, it increased by 22%, but this is still not enough to keep pace with the reckless rate of spending that is going on in Sacramento.

State spending now constitutes 7.3% of all of our personal income. This is the highest spending level in California since 1978. Perhaps not coincidently, it was also during that period when taxpayers revolted and passed Proposition 13. And not surprisingly, that time of record high taxes was also a period during which Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature as well as the governor's office.

I've been looking for ways in which to slash spending, and I think I've found one hidden in a little known place. While I and my fellow Republican Assembly members were searching for ways to cut the budget, the State continued to spend money on unfilled positions in the state bureaucracy. I find this practice appalling.

During the last three years, the total number of state government positions has grown by 43,855--an increase of almost 16 percent. However, many state agencies are not filling these positions. Instead, they used the funding for these positions to cover other departmental costs. This little shell game allowed the Governor and his bureaucrats to pad their budgets without asking for more funding from the Legislature.

During past budget years, 6,700 of these phantom positions were either eliminated or scheduled to be eliminated. But the problem has not gone away. According to the State Controller, there were still 24,899 vacant positions in the state government as of January 1, 2002. These positions have money attached to them and should not be protected from cuts during this time of serious budget shortfall.

According to the Assembly Republican Fiscal Office, there are 5,261 positions that are easily identified as excess. Eliminating these positions would save the state's general fund $201 million per year.

I am in favor of eliminating these phantom, unfilled positions in order to spare already over-burdened taxpayers from facing yet another looming budget deficit.

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