Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California's Financial Armageddon

Well, I hope everyone in California is happy. You showed them! You rejected all of the ballot measures yesterday.

Go on. Feel self-satisfied that you stood up to those politicians in Sacramento.

Unfortunately, the Day of Reckoning is coming. We are going to see cuts in services beyond our worst nightmare.

Yes, the politicians are to blame. Yes, they overspent money in the good times and didn't prudently save.

However, you voters are to blame too. You consistently vote yourself lower taxes and higher spending and then hamstring the legislature with spending requirements. You then enacted term limits which gave immense power to lobbyists because no one is around with any institutional memory or stake in long-term planning. You have an woefully small State Legislature with only 80 Assemblymembers for 36,000,000 people (with one member for every 450,000 persons, over 10 times the national median). You instituted a 2/3 budget rule which means super-MINORITIES on both sides of the spectrum can stop all decision making. Therefore, you want it all, low taxes and high spending.

You are about to experience the REAL world. You're not totally at fault. Conservatives sold you an economic lie that low taxes would bring so much economic growth you would not need to cut spending in order to balance the budget. They told you that you could have "something-for-nothing". And, of course, you wanted to believe them.

However, now we are going to get draconian spending cuts far beyond your worst nightmare. And this is not what the majority opinion in this state is.

Just know the era of supply-side economics is over. Tax cuts do not "pay for themselves". They require spending cuts to balanced the budget. Previously conservatives have gotten away with calling for tax cuts without having to outline how they would be paid for. Now you will see what level of spending conservative tax policy will support. And chances are high that you won't like it.

I want to know why rescinding the 2/3 state budget rule wasn't on the ballot.

I want to vote for a measure that will repeal that undemocratic rule AND repeal all voter improved tax and spending measures for the last 40 years, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 98, thus both forcing and enabling the legislature and governor to once again make policy decisions and be held accountable for those decisions. I want to increase (double) the size of the State Assembly to 160 members so that Committees have more influence and that districts are less populous so that less special interest money is needed to run for these seats.

I want California State Government to be overhauled root and branch, and I want the elected politicians to be able to enact and be held accountable for their policies. No more rule by super-minority and being able to blame the other party for their intransigence.

Blame the Governor and the Legislature and your fellow voters, and the worst economy since the Great Depression for this financial disaster, but primarily blame the undemocratic 2/3 budget rule for the prisoners about to released early from prison, from the parks that will close, for the draconian cuts in education and health and transportation spending, and for the draconian cuts to county and city budgets soon to follow.


Note: As far as transit goes, if you want to know why we are about to have cuts in bus service despite passing Measure R, it is because the state budget completely abolished the $536 million that it dedicated to subsidizing transit operations.