California’s Budget Surplus

After years of fiscal trouble, California’s looking at a budget surplus. We’ll look at how they did it and the lessons there.

Gov. Jerry Brown points to a chart showing an increase in education funding in his proposed 2013-14 state budget. (AP)

Gov. Jerry Brown points to a chart showing an increase in education funding in his proposed 2013-14 state budget. (AP)

Since the financial meltdown of ’08, California has often been the national poster child for bad state finances.  Huge fights.  Vicious politics.  Scary red ink.  Bloody cuts in spending on fundamentals.  Prisons.  Schools.

And then last week, there was California Governor Jerry Brown, front and center, talking rebound.  California’s budget deficit, he declared, gone.  New money for K-12.  A billion set aside for a rainy day.  It’s kind of amazing.

This hour, On Point:  How did they do that?  California’s fiscal turnaround, and lessons – if they’re there – for the country.

-Tom Ashbrook


Vauhini Vara, covers California politics for the Wall Street Journal.

Joe Matthews, fellow at the New America Foundation. Co-author, with Mark Paul, of “California Crackup: How Reform Broke The Golden State and How We Can Fix It.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Sacramento Bee “Riding a wave of new tax revenue, California’s spending plan for the coming fiscal year will rise by nearly $5 billion, a powerful indication that the state that came to symbolize fiscal mismanagement during the heart of the recession is emerging into brighter days.”

The Wall Street Journal “California expects general-fund revenue to rise 3.3% to $98.5 billion from $95.4 billion in the current fiscal year, representing the highest level since 2007. The increase comes as California’s economy has improved considerably since the recession that hit the state especially hard. The unemployment rate fell to 9.8% in November from 11.3% a year ago.”

Salon “The governor listed a number of factors that could undermine his budget plan, including uncertain action by Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling, potential increases in health care costs and whether courts or the federal government block some of his proposed spending cuts.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 24, 2015
An archival image of a McKinley - Hobart Presidential Campaign Poster from 1896. (Public Domain / WikiCommons)

Republican political strategist Karl Rove is thinking about the McKinley 1896 campaign and the GOP field right now. Karl Rove is with us.

Nov 24, 2015
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks  hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
1 Comment
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »