My friend John Greet has been very consistent for the past few years commenting on various blogs and websites, and now as a regular contributor to the Long Beach Post, that we as citizens deserve the government we get because that is who we elect. And he is right. Unfortunately, the minority must live with the bad decisions of the majority, as they see them, especially in the State of California.
California has a majority of voters registered as Democrat, and a shrinking minority (around 35%) of registered Republicans. With the exception of the Governor’s office, where the personification of a Rino holds office (Republican In Name Only), Democrats control the State of California from local through Federal offices. They were elected by the people, so they rule the people. Up and down the state we are in financial crisis due to the year after year after year increases in spending: new programs, new mandated spending for all levels, more employees, all have added up to budget deficits for public coffers.
It has become somewhat de rigueur to blame the national economic crisis on the budget problems, and to this I say “Bunk.” Particularly in Sacramento, the state was headed into financial crisis before any whiff of trouble was approaching the credit markets and Wall Street. Why? Because state legislators, enabled by our governor, kept spending more and more and more money. It has been well documented that the past several years when state tax revenue increased 20% our elected officials increased state spending 40%--and that is the fault of the national economy how?
So now the legislator and the governor have reached a compromise to balance California’s budget, they did so by raising taxes on the highest taxed people in the country by $14.4 billion per year—for up to five years. The reports say that there would be $15 billion in cuts—which many would take to mean cuts in spending. This is a ruse, spending by the State of California for the coming fiscal year will not go down $15 billion from the year before, in fact it goes up.
How does this happen? A budget is a projection of revenue and spending. If a department is budgeted to receive and increase in funding from $100 million from the current $90 million it receives now and instead the budget is revised to only increase the department’s budget to $95 million then that department can say, “Our budget was cut $5 million.” Sure, but you are getting $5 million more than you did before so your revenue has increased. This is happening all across the budget negotiations, and the $15 billion in cuts is consisted by almost half of it being no reductions in spending but rather cuts in the projected increases to departments and programs.
Only in Sacramento does it make sense to tax taxes, and that is what is in this budget proposal. If you pay the state $1000 in taxes the state is going to tax that payment, a “surcharge”, of up to 5%. So after you pay your $1000 you can add an additional check for $50. Already the highest income tax in the nation, the state of California will now tax its taxes—genius.
Gas prices too high, the highest in the Continental U.S. with the highest taxes at the pump? So what pay more, the proposal adds $0.12 per gallon. Already the highest sales tax in the country add an additional 1% to all your purchases that are taxed—and look for that list to expand.
So where does this $14 billion go? Well most of it will go to state and public employees since payroll is far and away the biggest item on every budget. And how many public employees are losing their jobs because of this budget? How much is the legislator and top level employees of the state seeing cut in their pay? State employees already enjoy more paid holidays than any other workers—currently 14 days off for paid holidays on top of their vacation and sick days. The proposal has deeply upset the public employees’ unions because it has the audacity to cut two of the paid holidays from their calendars, so now they get one paid day off every month on top of their vacation and sick days.
Looking back on my life I realize that perhaps the biggest mistake I made was not going to work for the State or a public entity when I graduated from college in 1984. I would now be approaching twenty five years of service and at the age of 46 be eligible for a very comfortable retirement package and still young enough to start a second career—most likely as a consultant to the state, counties or cities at higher pay than I received in salary. Because of the give aways over the years to the public employees unions they have incredible job security, you almost have to kill someone to get fired and even then the union would file a grievance, lifetime retirement and benefits and guaranteed pay raises as your union dumps millions of dollars into campaign contributions of the Democrats who control all the purse strings from El Cajon to Mendocino.
California voters will not learn their lessons. In 2010 up and down the ballot a majority will vote merely by looking for (D) next to someone’s name, or the name they are most familiar with after being inundated with flyers, postcards, mailers and phone calls paid for by the unions. You don’t think union money matters in California? Ask Jenny Orepeza why she lost to Laura Richardson for a seat in the United States Congress.
So we will continue to be governed by politicians suckling on the union teets for campaign contributions and looking for their next job when they are termed out. We will see more growth in government, more people subsisting on government hand outs, higher payrolls for government workers, and more taxes for the people of California.
We can stop this cycle. Call, write, email, knock on the door of every Republican legislator in Sacramento and tell them if even one of them votes to pass this proposal, or any proposal with tax increases, you will not give the party one cent, you will not vote or volunteer for any currently elected Republican, you will essentially help crash the party in this state (which looks like it has already happened).
We pay and the politicians get re-elected for more junkets, lunches, dinners and royal treatment from those buying their votes. John Greet is right, we deserve it.