The state budget has had Californians a bit edgy over the past year or so, particularly as funding for state programs has progressively dried up in what many say is a bad case of partisanship. The Sacramento impasse has definitely been felt in county and city governments that depend on state money for some of their programs. Having run on the promise that he would reach across the aisle to help solve the state’s budget woes, newly inducted State Senator Tony Strickland came to a “card table” community outreach at Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace shopping center on Friday afternoon, January 23, with the goal of speaking with Democrats, Republicans, and other concerned members of the public. “Hopefully we can resolve this in the very near future,” he said at the event, which was hosted by Goleta mayor Roger Aceves. “I happen to think we’re close, but the devil’s in the details. No one is going to get 100 percent of what they want.”
About a dozen people ventured out in the light rain to attend the event, a good number of them Democrats calling for a tax increase to help the state procure more funding. A few students who were incensed that the cost of education is rising, while the number of students being admitted to state colleges and universities decreases, pressed Strickland on why he thought that keeping taxes low would at all help the squeeze felt by users of educational institutions. “I happen to believe that if you raise taxes, you get less revenue,” said Strickland, explaining to the students that he felt that raising taxes would cause businesses to leave California and go to states with lower taxes-particularly Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Increasing manufacturing, Strickland said, particularly for green technology and renewable energy, would increase revenue and turn California into a hub for those industries. “The best way to get rid of this mess is by creating jobs,” Strickland said.
Strickland was adamant that reforming taxation by instituting spending caps and creating a rainy day fund is the way to ensure that the state’s coffers survive economic downturns. “We, as a state, have to be like other families and save for hard times,” he said.
Aceves expressed concern for the impact Sacramento’s budget problems are having on Goleta, saying that the state recently effected budget freezes that amounted to a loss of $180,000 in funding for the city’s Redevelopment Agency. “When Sacramento takes money from you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it back,” he said. “Sacramento needs to put to bed this idea that [the budget] is a Democrat or Republican problem.” Although they have disparate ideologies, Aceves said that he looked forward to working with Strickland to help the state, and therefore Goleta, move toward more prosperous times. “Tony campaigned to bring both parties together and be a representative of the people. We need to hold him to that, give him the challenges, and allow him to take a leadership role in Sacramento. We need to give him every support.”
Both Strickland and Aceves seemed to think that Friday’s outreach event had achieved something, and aside from one or two students left scratching their heads about how their quandary was to be resolved, Strickland was able to individually address the concerns of the small group of people in attendance. The mayor and the state senator have a one-on-one meeting planned in the near future to discuss some of the state budget issues specific to Goleta. “I think the best legislators are the ones who get out in the community, have a dialogue, and have an open door policy,” said Strickland.