RivCo lawmakers respond to passage of state budget

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The California Senate approved a record $214.8 billion budget that now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for consideration, and several Riverside County lawmakers are speaking out against what they call “morally wrong,” a “failure to solve real problems” and “increase” in financial burdens to taxpayers in the state.

The new budget includes money to give taxpayer-funded health insurance to some low-income adults ages 18-25, living in the country illegally, authorizes $650 million in spending to address the state’s housing and homelessness crisis and bolsters Cal Fire after the state suffered through the most devastating wildfire season in state history in 2018.

Under the new budget, which includes a $22 billion surplus and either a $695 or 2.5% of the household income fine for Californians who fail to purchase health insurance and sets aside an additional $450 million over three years to reduce insurance costs even more for middle-income residents, has Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R, Lake Elsinore, more than a little hot under the collar.

“The ‘healthcare for all’ ideology is embedded in this budget … by way of forcing every legal citizen of California to purchase insurance or face a $695 fine, but giving it away for free to illegal aliens,” she said, adding that California is No. 1 in poverty in the nation.

“Budgets are about priorities,” Sen. Jeff Stone, R, Palm Springs, said. “I agree with the belief that we should be philanthropic to the working families who struggle to make ends meet. I agree that we should care about working poor who can’t afford healthcare. That’s why I find it morally wrong to raise taxes on working men and women in order to give free healthcare to individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 who are in this country illegally.”

Melendez said that she believes Legislative democrats are more than willing to continue spending other people’s money while having little to no success to point to.

“Los Angeles spent over half a billion dollars last year to ‘fight’ homelessness. The result was an embarrassing 12% increase in homelessness,” she said. “This year’s budget proposes spending $650 million on ‘fighting’ homelessness for the entire state, the bulk of that money likely destined for cities like Los Angeles, which failed miserably at its last attempt. No Californian should expect that the state will do a better job, because the Democrat majority party has shown they’re incompetent at problemsolving.”

Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said that over the next two years businesses will pay $3 billion in new taxes while consumers will be charged $1 billion over the next three years in health penalty taxes, all on top of the six-cents per gallon gas increase set to begin July 1.

“Have you had enough,” he asked. “Despite a record-setting $215-billion budget, including a $22-billion surplus, the governor and legislative Democrats still want more of our money.”

Stone was quick to point out that the state has a litany of serious problems that need to be addressed.

“Even though we are the fifth largest economy in the world, there are still over 130,000 people who go to sleep every night in their cars, on our streets or in our limited homeless shelters,” Stone said. “The fact that nearly 11,000 of these people are veterans is unforgivable – especially when the Legislature appears ready to give nearly $100 million to free healthcare for those in the country illegally.”

Stone said that he understands that “we all want people to be able to live the American dream.”

“Unfortunately, the Democrat majority seems to believe the dream is having taxpayers pay for free stuff for everyone instead of everyone becoming taxpayers,” he said.

Morrell said he believes that the increased financial burdens due to these increases will be nothing but problematic for those who call California home.

“The next generation cannot afford for the state to increase financial burdens on them, but that is what will happen as government continues to take our money, mismanage it and ask for more,” he said, adding that public safety is the government’s first priority. “Its next priority is to help those citizens who can’t help themselves.  My concern about this budget is that it rewards those who are here illegally and punishes those who have played by the rules and still can’t seem to get any relief from the Democrat majority.”

For Melendez, who called the state budget “a failure to solve real problems,” and pointed out that “California has the most homeless, the worst roads, despite the highest gas tax, a housing crisis and a great need to build water storage with none yet being built,” it all comes down to one thing, the people of California who deserve better.

“If a budget is a statement of values, then legislative Democrats are clearly stating what they value most is getting re-elected by stripping people of their personal dignity and keeping them dependent on government.”

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.