While the rest of the country is focused on Arizona, California remains in a bit of a fix – and by ‘fix’ I mean ‘rampaging financial crisis.’ The state needs to come up with twenty five billion dollars to handle its budget shortfall, and incoming Governor Brown has decided to split the baby* in the new budget. He’s proposed 12.5 billion in spending cuts and 12 billion in tax hikes. Said tax hikes will take the form of extensions on current tax rates (which will need to be ratified by the voters in a June vote; the spending cuts will hit everywhere except K-12 education & prison guards (which are represented by two lobbying groups that were heavy supporters of Brown). But the controversy over that may pale in comparison to Brown’s proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies, which is currently having the same effect on local governments as a thrown rock does, right after it impacts the hornet’s nest. No doubt more controversy, objections, push-back, push-push-back, and scenes of torch-bearing mobs are all to follow.
All in all, I’m glad that I’m not Governor of California – and, truthfully, there’s a certain relief in the notion that I’m not obligated to give the Governor of California advice on how to fix his state’s long-time financial woes. I will, anyway** – I’m that nice a guy – but I don’t have to, and arguably the state of California has already made it clear that fiscal conservatism is not welcome over there. Which is their privilege: but it means that all I have left to offer is a certain rough sympathy. Which, for what it’s worth, I extend.
*For the benefit of anyone from the Left reading this: emergency CPR instructions may be found here.
**Really short version? Find some way to eliminate referendums, initiatives, and recalls. Those were Progressive ‘reforms,’ and they worked about as well as Prohibition did. Simplify the tax code***. Cut your various regulatory agencies to 10% of their operating budget – yes, I said 10% – and bulldoze their offices (evacuate them first!). Go out to the San Joaquin valley with a pick-axe and the California National Guard and use both to turn the spigots back on (thus getting your agricultural sector back) – then get a big plate of deep-fried delta smelt, gag one or two down for the cameras, and invite Barbara Boxer to come have a bite. And start practicing the Hawaiian good-luck symbol to use on the press; it’s going to get a lot of use.
***I’d say ‘lower taxes,’ but expecting a Democratic governor to do that is a bit much. Heck, so is most of the rest of this list – but the man’s called ‘Moonbeam’ for a reason. Maybe he’s gonzo enough to do some of this. Maybe.