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."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Great California Budget Sell-out of 2009

Unbelievable. Unbelievable. The details of the CA budget deal are coming out and it's pretty clear that the GOP got everything it wanted, and the Democrats gave away the store. Again. For some reason, the Democrats are unable to hang the blocking minority with the responsibility for blocking the budget. So they give in. The Republicans insisted that any budgetary cuts - whether to disabled people or schools or filling potholes - are better than even a penny of tax increases. And they won. I'm just livid over this. Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but you've got to have priorities. How is it possible that the #1 priority is "no tax increase" and that can take precedence over every other value? At least they cut $1b from the prison budgets, but that will be put back in by the legislature, who will wimp out when the police get all mad, as they are. The $9b cut from education won't raise an eyebrow. After all, CA funds education at the state level but the responsibliity is local, so only the local folks get punished.

And all of this didn't solve the problem. It's $15b in cuts and $9b in accounting gimmicks.

This is a total disaster. If a Democratic majority means nothing - if the Republicans win anyway - I might as well vote Green.

The Democrats should have made their own non-negotiable demand in return: that a constitutional convention be called.


Dr. Strangelove said...

Part of what happened, LTG, was that the Democrats had put the question of higher taxes on the ballot back on May 19, and in a huge defeat, nearly 2/3 of the voters said NO. Ever single county in the state voted no on Prop 1A. As you know, the only measure voters approved was one that would prevent elected officials from getting any raises during a budget crisis--and nearly 3/4 of the electorate said amen to that.

The people of California simply are not going to accept higher taxes at this point until they can be convinced they are needed. I hope the massive cuts will make it plain that major reform is required. But I'm not waiting up nights.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Putting these questions in isolation on the ballot dooms them to failure. It must be a legislative package. Imagine if the cuts being discussed were put individually on the ballot. All would fail too.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Also, the state will be stealing - we can call it that - property, gas, and sales tax revenue from cities and counties. The money is supposed to be collected centrally then disbursed back to the counties and municipalities under a legislative formula set years ago. Now they will take billions from the cities and counties to balance their budget, unbalancing the rest. Biggest hit of course is LA at about 166m.

Raised By Republicans said...

I share your outrage LTG. This is terrible. I would only defend the Democrats by saying that they gave in because they were more responsible than the Republicans and the Republicans knew that. The GOP was perfectly willing to see the state go down in flames to claim a win. The Democrats were playing chicken with a bunch of suicidal maniacs.

There has to be a way to make sure that a disproportionate amount of the pain hits the central valley.

I know it would never happen but my dream would be this:

The UC system should start by simply shutting down UC Merced. Cal State could shut down CSU Stanislaus.

All state support for agriculture would be suspended until Republicans stop holding the state hostage.

The public utilities commission could raise the water prices on farmers to be equal with the rate paid by urban residents.

All road work on SR 99 would cease. Leave any cones and single lane areas in place just to make it even more annoying.

If you and your representatives won't vote to pay for the government services, you won't get them.

Dead Parrot said...

Why does California need to steal money from cities and counties (even when the people in a ballot measure a few years ago told the state to stop this practice)? Banks won't lend Calfornia money. Well, they will but at a higher interest rate than CA wants to pay.

This is another jerry-rigged solution that will begin to fall apart as soon as the ink is dry on the governator's signature. Revenue is going to continue to drop. The money will not be there to re-pay the schools and social programs for the money cut. Nor will the money be there to re-pay the cities and counties. In a month, maybe two, the legislature will have another $5 billion hole to fill that will keep growing.

RBR, The LA Times has recently published a couple of pieces about how the cutback in water deliveries to the Central Valley is killing communities. One example -,0,4411825.story

When did the state get control of local property tax money? Wasn't that a separate ballot measure shortly after Prop 13? Do you think there will be a backlash to rescind that authority and let the local municipalities collect and administer school funds?

Raised By Republicans said...

"the cutback in water deliveries to the Central Valley is killing communities"

Well, a little justice at least... Maybe when the next census comes there will have been sufficient depopulation of the Republican part of the state to resolve these perennial impasses.

BTW, if the area is losing population and their representatives refuse to vote for necessary tax increases to pay for increasing services, why should tax payers in the cities continue to spend scarce resources on UC Merced and CSU Stanislaus and Fresno State? Cut 'em off and give them their Republican utopia with no public services for just a year and listen to them howl.

The Law Talking Guy said...

You are right, RBR, the problem is that Democrats were playing chicken with suicidal maniacs. But the real problem was Schwarzenegger. If the Governor AND the majority of the legislature could bring all their pressure to bear on a few recalcitrant Republicans, they could make them take all the heat and force a deal. With an apparent 3-way split, with the big mike in the hands of Governor Dumbdumb, they failed to make their case.

The only real sense for optimism is that 2010 brings a new election and the anger at Arnie for his fecklessness is vast. The Republicans won't get another turn in the governor's mansion. We should get a Democratic governor and maybe even a couple more Dems in the legislature. Heck, the Dems could get the 2/3 vote they need.

But the solution has to be structural, in the end we need a new constitution in this state. It's broken. We need for one party to rule, pick its budget priorities, and take the heat for the way it chooses to raise revenue. We can't keep having initiatives cram up the budget system, no control over revenue, and have the only budget solution every year be to satisfy the spending desires of both parties.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"We need for one party to rule, pick it's budget priorities..."

I couldn't help thinking:

"One party to rule them all, one party to find them..."

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes, LTG, this is a structural problem that requires a structural solution. I agree! A new constitution is needed. If the Democrats do managed to get that 2/3 majority, the first thing they should do is call a constitutional convention to make it unnecessary to have such huge and rare majorities to get anything done.

I can't believe how irresponsible the Republicans are being over this. From Governor Muscles on down. There are limits to ideological principles. There is being a tough negotiator and there is this. They showed that they are perfectly happy to see the entire state collapse for the sake of their own shrinking constituency.

BTW, what do you guys think of taxing the medical marijuana shops? Do drug stores get taxed? If not, then this kind of admits this stuff isn't really being used only for medicinal purposes. ;-)

The Law Talking Guy said...

My reaction to taxing medical marijuana? Great... Now we're a narco-state. Isn't that the last stage before failed state?

We might as well do it. Nothing much to lose really, and the medical marijuana folks desperately WANT to be taxed (they like the apparent legitimacy). If we can get $1.4b from it, why not?

One of my favorite tax anecdotes is that the Emperor Vespasian installed pay toilets throughout Rome to make money. His effete son, whose name I forget, was appalled at this. How tawdry. Vespasian is said to have remarked, "pecunia non olet." The money doesn't stink.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The $1.4b figure was floated last week by someone. Forget who or whether it is reliable. May include taxing production.

Raised By Republicans said...

I imagine California would take the money now even if it did. And you know what? I bet Vespasian would have too.

USwest said...

Thanks RBR for gutting my town and recommending the my alma matter be closed, which is one of the fastest growing CSUs in the system. And thanks to that school, my niece will get a college education on privately funded scholarships. And she will get a pretty good education there just like her aunt did. Oh, and did I mention, it will be my home again once escrow closes on my new home in Turlock? Yes, since the place I currently live and work won't have me (I'm not rich enough), I'm going home. And I hope that I might help pull the town to a better place.

That's just pissy of you, really. Other than driving through on your way from LA to somewhere sexy, how much do you really know about the Central Valley and its people beyond Highway 99 (the longest corridor between Mexico and Canada without a stop light) and poll numbers? My entire family lives there are and we all vote solid Democrat and we aren't on public assistance. I'll take note the next time you get pissed derisive comments are made about the Mid-West and it's Republicans.

Ag subsidies are a problem and most farmers in the area recognize the water issue. But maybe if Bay Area people would consider starting profitable businesses and actually living and investing in the Central Valley rather than using it as one big commuter neighborhood, the Valley might be able to get a better grip on jobs. Maybe if they would vote on the Central Valley, we'd get more liberals around. Maybe rather than offering another Wall Mart, we might get a computer tech firm.

The Central Valley is a high poverty, low opportunity area. Coastal gangs moved it and brought the crime and drugs with them. The establishment of those schools is about the only hope we have to create non-ag jobs and maybe then, we'd keep more of our successful young people and be able to pay the higher taxes that are needed.

USWest said...

BTW: here is a great source to really see the subtilies of CA voters.,0,1293859.htmlstory?view=8&tab=0&fnum=0

You can use the drop down on the right to see the break on out the map by election issue. And you can employ filters to really see what the break downs are interms of race and income. It's fun to play with. And when you do, you will see that the Cantral Valley that RBR so reviles for its Republican state legislators is isn't uniformly conservative. A little redistricting, a new census, and you may see some interesting changes.

Raised By Republicans said...

Sorry, US West, I was speaking out of anger.

I'm just annoyed that in California - as in the country as a whole - those parts of the state/country most dependent on outside public moneys for lots of good public services (like CSU Stanislaus for all the reasons you mentioned) vote for representatives who consistently act to undermine the provision of those services to the rest of the state/country.

Representatives like Republican Thomas Berryhill of Modesto. Berryhill voted against any budget with tax increases (forcing cuts on everyone in the state) but voted against the latest compromise because it cut funding to his district's "rural law enforcement folks." This guy wants all the cuts to hit LA and SF and all the tax benefits to come his way. He's got a right to think that but the majority has a right to make him suffer the consequences.

Of course CSUS has value - and you and your niece are proof of it. That's why it would be a form of political revenge against the Central Valley Republicans (and their constituents) who cause these budget problems to shut it down.

As a matter of really sound policy (absent bloody minded revenge), CSUS should be expanded of course - most especially because as the economy in the region tanks, schools like CSUS will help people transition to better jobs either where they are or elsewhere. UC Merced on the other hand is a complete boondoggle designed to make Central Valley state legislators feel like big shots for having "their own research university." But I can tell you that California does not need an 10th research university. They should shut UC Merced down for sure until they really need it. Spend the money they save on maintaining or even expanding the campuses they already have. Especially places like CSUS.

Again, US West, I'm sorry if I maligned your alma mater. I was angry at the region's voting patterns and trying to come up with ways to make them suffer the consequences of their representatives' actions.

I did not mean to imply CSUS wasn't a worth while institution - quite the opposite really. It was worthy enough to be thought of something the loss of which would be noticed even by Republicans.

Raised By Republicans said...

By the way, congratulations on the new house!!!

USwest said...

I get where you are coming from. My reaction was rather knee-jerky because Turlock and the Valley are "fly over country" for the state. And that harden's people's attitudes.

For years, that area has been represented by conservatives, ranging from Blue Dog Democrats to all our Republicans like now. But they voted Obama.

The wealthy in the Valley live well, and then send their kids to SF or LA to school. They are the landed gentry. The averge person doesn't do so well. They work hard, get screwed and they don't get elected to state office.

And when we talk about taking revenge on Republicans by shutting down the liberal bastions of the Valley, we know that we would be hurting real people who already have it tough. I'd rather see us take revenge by redistricting them out of office.

So no hard feelings. Hopefully a few more of us go home and paint the town blue.

What really has to happen is for redistricting and the census to shift things. And of course, as has been pointed out by LTG, end term limits. They were always a bad idea, as was 3 strikes and so many other angery voter initiatives. California, BTW, is really big on hating state government. Can't think of a time when state government was liked.

Raised By Republicans said...

"Hopefully a few more of us go home and paint the town blue."