California Collapsing: What Would Reagan Do?

When he was in office, Ronald Reagan looked bad. Now, by today’s standards, he looks like a progressive.

Reagan, Ronald. 1973. “On Spending and the Nature of Government.” National Review (7 December).

“When I took office in 1967, we discovered that the promise of “no tax increases” could not be carried out. California was virtually insolvent, the precious administration having changed that state’s system of budgetary bookkeeping in a way that allowed the spending of 15 months’ revenue in twelve months’ time, thus avoiding a major tax increase in election year 1966. The state government was spending $1 million a day more than it was collecting.”

“California, unlike the Federal Government, cannot print more money or pile up deficits. The governor is required to submit a balanced budget, and if any additional taxes are needed to balance revenues with spending, the constitution requires the governor to propose higher taxes.”

“So our first major lesson in government was painful: for the taxpayers and for us. We had to increase taxes by some $800 million to balance the unbalanced budget we inherited.”

2 comments so far

  1. Jim Farmelant on

    All that is certainly true. However, if in 1966 Pat Brown had beaten Reagan and gotten re-elected and then in his second term proceeded to raise taxes in order to balance the state budget, I can gaurantee you that Reagan would have been first in line to denounce Brown for raising taxes “on the backs of the people of California.”

    • mperelman on

      You are absolutely correct, but Reagan and George Deukmejian, for all their right-wing fanaticism, still were willing to raise taxes rather than to destroy the state.


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