In response to The Bee's scathing critique of Sen. Jeff Denham and myself ("We urge Jeff Denham to vote for state budget," Aug. 3, Page B-6), I feel compelled to set the record straight. The Bee's appeal to vote for this budget is steeped with one-sided arguments. It is imperative that your readers be given the whole story and be provided the rationale for why Senate Republicans are standing firm.
For too long California's leaders have resorted to accounting gimmicks and questionable revenue estimates to paper over the state's fiscal problems. However, since beginning negotiations on this year's budget, my Republican colleagues and I have been clear that this year would be different.
The budget must be balanced -- it must be based on sound revenue estimates and free of deficit spending. Additionally, we believe that the budget process is an appropriate venue to address other important issues, such as ensuring that the billions of dollars in infrastructure improvement bonds recently approved (for transportation, education, and housing projects), are spent in a manner consistent with the will of the voters, and that the projects these bonds are intended to fund are not tied up by frivolous environmental lawsuits which will only delay progress and increase costs.
The current budget proposal, which I have consistently opposed, violates all of these principles.
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However, to demonstrate our commitment to these principles my Republican colleagues and I responded by proposing a balanced budget. The Senate Democratic leadership refused to allow a vote on that budget. The Bee accuses us of not acting for the greater good. Having a balanced budget is not only for the greater good but is also a constitutional requirement.
To ensure that essential state services such as Medi-Cal payments and adult day health care centers can continue uninterrupted while negotiations continue, Denham offered, and I supported, Senate floor amendments that would allow the state to continue paying its bills until a deal is reached. These are critical services and we support them and want to see them funded. The Senate Democratic leadership refused to allow a vote on that amendment. It was the Democrats who have blocked this funding.
The Bee was correct — this funding is for the greater good, and the record shows that my Republican colleagues and I have, once again, fought for that greater good.
To show that Republican senators are willing to do the hard work necessary to work out a budget agreement, Sen. Tom McClintock made a motion which would have required the Senate to return to work on negotiations immediately. The Senate Democratic leadership defeated that motion and instead sent senators back to their districts. Staying diligent until a state budget is passed is for the greater good and we are here, working on the budget.
In contrast,the Democratic leadership has repeatedly pushed a vote on a budget proposal that exacerbates the state's fiscal problems. Rather than sitting down with Republicans to negotiate a truly balanced budget, the Democratic leadership has decided to do nothing until Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez returns from his European vacation later this month.
Given the Democratic leadership's unwillingness to work with Senate Republicans to reach a budget deal, The Bee might want to reconsider who it is that is working toward the greater good.
Cogdill, R-Modesto, represents the 14th Senate District, which includes parts of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties and all of Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.