Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Banged Up and Busted in California

It goes without saying that we know how we got here. But the worst of it is that no one is on the mood to fix it. A while back RBR made the bold statement that us Californian's should get out while we still could. This guy agrees with you. I am beginning to think he may be right. Crumbling schools, water rationing, soaring budget deficits, a failed state government . . . if this were a country, we'd be taken over by the IMF and made to fly right.

After being in lock down all night, the state of California does not yet have a budget plan. State employees are looking at layoffs and furloughs. While the rest of the country looks forward to huge publically funded building projects, our state is looking to put some 300 such projects on hold. Pink slips are going out to state employees. With all those people out of work the revenue stream will only shrink what little revenue stream we have. All this goes on while California natives take over important roles in Washington. I mean, come on, we have the Speaker of the House, the head of the CIA, roles on powerful committees! Why is it that we can decent, smart politicians to Washington, but can't produce any to help run the state? We rather elect actors!

We've tried throwing the bastards out with term limits. That hasn't worked out. We tried protecting schools with voter approved budget mandates, thus sucking the shrinking general fund dry. But that is proving not to work out so well either because schools are being cut. We jettisoned a decent governor for Mr. Muscles. West Virginia is looking better and better to me. And here's the worst part: the public is nearly helpless to change things. It is as if this is mess that only the legislature deals with, the rest of us just sit and wait for the shit to run downhill.

In the latest news: the State GOP kicked out its Minority Leader for agreeing to 14.4 bil in tax hikes. Ok, so let me get this straight. We have a $42 billion budget deficit no revenue stream, and a bunch of programs that require funding. Republicans are dead set against tax hikes of any kind. They want to cut, cut, cut. The Democrats don't see how you can cut enough to make up the shortfall and no one wants to be the deciding vote. In short, it is a monumental cluster fuck.

So here is what I want to know: What would it take to force the state into a new constitutional convention short of armed conflict? Why haven't we stormed the capital with pitchforks?


Raised By Republicans said...

Don't forget that the Senate Majority Leader is from a part of Nevada that is right up against the California border. If Harry Ried didn't spend much of his teenage years running around on back roads in California he wasn't being a very good teenager.

Raised By Republicans said...

As for what it would take? I don't know. I would have thought someone would start talking about at least repealing Prop 13 by now.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The Republicans in the California legislature keep claiming we can just cut the fat out of the bureaucracy and that will close the budget gap.

OK, fine--let's do the math then, shall we? The California State Employees Association has 140,000 members. This consists of union members as well as non-union managers--pretty much everyone.

So even if every CA state employee were earning $100,000 per year (and of course that is a wild overestimate) then you could fire them all right now and still save only ("only") $14 billion.

As it is, they are sending pink slips to about 20,000 employees today. This is madness. Even with the massive cuts proposed by the Democrats, they still need more money to plug the hole. They will borrow some, get some from Washington, and raise taxes for the rest.

It sucks, but the requirement to balance the budget leaves no choice. What we really need to do, apparently, is allow California to run a serious deficit like the government of every other major industrialized power. As we are fond of reminding non-Californians, California by itself would rank among the top 10 economies in the world (exactly where depends on your metric.) Unfortunately, while Obama is busy playing Roosevelt, our state legislature must collectively play the role of Hoover, attempting to balance the budget in the midst of financial disaster.

You would think the Republicans would be working to solve the underlying structural problem facing California's budget. But apparently, they are just not good at math.

Raised By Republicans said...

I have an idea. Cut off all state money to the Central Valley counties. Cold Turkey. Those counties almost certainly get more from Sacramento than they pay in taxes. Cut 'em off. Teach "Calibama" a lesson they won't soon forget.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The budget went through at 5am when the Democrats agreed to place an open primary measure on the ballot, pleasing Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria. This is disgusting and unbelievable. The whole things is awful, with a 1% hike in sales tax (to 9.25%!!) and doubling vehicle license fees. It will cost us all a ton of money.

Democrats need to abolish the 2/3 majority vote rule now. Republicans have so little power (being 35% or so of the lege) that they can only extract concessions during the budgeting process, which is awful.

USwest said...

I hate to admit it, but Abel Maldonado is from my district. Big on large scale farming.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I actually own a pitchfork. It is, of course, made in China.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, US West, I read that op-ed in that link and I feel very much the same way as that guy. I think California is a wonderful place. It is a culturally diverse place in the truest sense of the word. And of course a place that is nearly always sunny and warm is nice.

But there are too many people there trying to turn California into too many things. California cannot sustain a population of 37 million people. The price of housing is so high in part because demand has long since outstripped the reasonable supply - so high prices.

The budget thing exacerbates things. When you have too many people trying to make a place into too many different things it doesn't help to have a state government that has been designed to function like the town council of a small village in New England.

There are times when I really want to weep for California. Hard times are here and worse are on the way.

USwest said...

I agree, RBR. All of us on this blog at one point or another have sort had the attitude "Welcome to CA, no go home." There are too many people.

As for cutting funds for the Central Valley: that is sort of my home region and there is a great deal of poverty there. What needs to happen in the Central Valley is that green businesses need to move inland to create jobs. Too much high paying industry is isolated along the coast and that is not necessary. We have inland transport and could develop it well. What happens is that the Centrla Valley is a bedroom community for Bay Area Transits (BATS) who show up only at night after working the SF or SJ and who leave before light in the morning to get to their jobs. You want to make CA green? Then move jobs to where there is housing. I've even proposed to my employer to open satellite campuses in Turlock. Plenty of housing, a diverse community, nearby educational institutions . . .

Instead, the cities of the Central Valley draw more big box retailers for the quick tax hit. So all the Valley towns look exactly a like, and have low paying jobs. I don't understand why these towns don't try to draw better businesses.

Then there are the Turlock natives who leave for So Cal, make money, but never think to give some of it back to their hometown. One of the founders of My Space was in my graduating class. So rather than bring some jobs back home, he bases operations in So Cal. Sad.