Budget-Cutting California Republicans Demand End To Welfare While Collecting Farm Subsidies

California Republicans, cutting education "welfare" while raking in taxpayer subsidies

As states continue to cope with budget shortfalls, the same pattern repeats itself over and over again. Republicans refuse to raise revenues — opposing tax hikes on the ultra-wealthy or ending wasteful tax loopholes for corporations — thus forcing budgets to be closed by targeting the most vulnerable: students, middle class families, the elderly, the unemployed, etc.

California is no different, as GOP legislators in Sacramento refused to budge on tax increases, which forced savings in Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D-CA) new budget to be found solely through draconian cuts. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, cuts to higher education alone will force a nearly 18 percent bump in tuition for UC students. Yearly budget cuts have more than doubled the price of public college in California since 2005.

But as California Republicans rail against “welfare” and wasteful government spending, an investigation by ThinkProgress has found that many of the state’s leading GOP legislators are themselves millionaire recipients of taxpayer money:

State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) and his wife Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Roseville) say they are staunch opponents of government spending. In an opinion piece about the state budget, Ted Gaines complained about the size of the California government and the number of “welfare cases” in the state. The Gaines family owns a profitable insurance company and several farms. Disclosures show that the Gaines family farms have received over $40,000 in federal farm subsidies.

Assemblyman David Valadao (R-Hanford) has called for “shrinking the size of government,” and refused to support any tax increases to stop cuts to education. Two farms owned in part by Valadao have received $808,832 in federal farm subsidies.

— Commenting on the budget, Assemblyman William Berryhill (R-Modesto) said the agreed-upon cuts didn’t go far enough and urged even less spending on “social welfare programs we can’t afford right now.” According to disclosures, Berryhill is a part-owner of a farm that has received over $7,000 in federal subsidies. Moreover, Berryhill owns up to a million dollar stake in WestAmerica Bancorporation, a bank that received (and later paid back) an $83 million bailout from the government.

California Republicans often claim that spending constraints on the state level should serve as a model for fiscal conservatism for the nation. But as our analysis shows, many anti-government, anti-welfare California lawmakers are more than happy to receive taxpayer money when they benefit from it.