Last week the Democratic leader of the state Senate said the state should provide child care for people no longer on welfare, among $470 million worth of other social services.


Consequently, Sen. Darrell Steinberg said, in January he will attempt to reverse Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's line-item budget vetoes eliminating those services from the recently adopted state budget.


The vetoes created a modest $1.3 billion reserve. Last year, the governor's vetoes created a mere $500 million reserve. California ended the year $4.8 billion in the red.


Mr. Steinberg focuses on what government can do. That approach has driven the state into the red, even after the highest tax increase in history in 2009.


Based on its free-spending history, it's difficult to imagine what the Democratic-controlled Legislature would not "do for you" if it could take more of your money. The Legislature seems never to ask what the proper use is for taxpayers' money, only how to get more to spend.


We applaud the governor's veto of $962.5 million from the adopted $87.5 billion budget. Judging from the accounting gimmickry that "balanced" the budget, it's likely to need at least that much, and soon.


Democrats grudgingly cut $7 billion in spending, then reacted angrily to the line-item vetoes. Reportedly, Mr. Steinberg won't try to override the vetoes, which requires a two-thirds vote.


Rather, "it seems that Steinberg intends to ask Democrats to reauthorize spending for the programs slashed by the governor," the Sacramento Bee reported.


That requires a governor willing to approve the extra spending, something to keep in mind Nov. 2 when choosing between Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown.


Free-market think tank Pacific Research Institute concluded in a new study that "California's government has grown too large and inefficient." More spending exacerbates the problem. PRI says California should learn from other states how to get more bang for the buck.


"California government can do more with fewer taxpayer dollars," PRI concluded.


The think tank's top recommendation is to reduce the size and scope of government. Mr. Steinberg and company should take heed.