California: Jerry Brown lives down to expectations

Well, that didn’t take long. Either we do what Jerry says and continue our exorbitant tax rates or the kids get it:

Gov. Jerry Brown will spare K-12 schools from further drastic cuts in his budget – so long as voters extend higher income taxes in a special election, according to sources familiar with his proposal.

The tradeoff wouldn’t cure education ills, and many districts would still face another year of fewer school days and larger class sizes. But it could avert even deeper cuts after years of school rollbacks and help Brown galvanize powerful education support for tax hikes in a June special election.

“If something like that happens, I’m going to be looking for the feet to be kissed,” said Kevin Gordon, a veteran education lobbyist, of the Brown education proposal. “The big question is, what will the voters do, and if voters don’t come through, will we go through incredible anxiety all over again?”

Brown does not plan to suspend Proposition 98, the state’s minimum guarantee for K-12 and community college funding, though he may seek to do so if the tax hike extensions don’t pass.

For those not familiar with our Sacramento-based soap opera, this is a ploy the legislature (and pliant governors like Schwarzenegger) have used in recent years to scare us into voting for new taxes: promise doom and the death of beloved programs unless we agree to give them even more money. And the newspapers act as their shills. It’s emotional blackmail at its worst, a typical liberal-statist ploy to avoid any real cuts to their precious spending by scaring the public.

And it ignores very real areas in which substantive cuts could be made, cuts that should be considered before any tax-hike proposal. Jon Fleischman of Flash Report has listed several in a hard-hitting post:

  • Have we ended collective bargaining for public employees?
  • Have we gone through and eliminated every possible state employee or contractor possible, streamlining our workforce such as in the private sector?
  • Have we privatized anything (roads, prisons, universities)?
  • Have we eliminated some of the vast array of hundreds of state boards and commissions?
  • Have we made permanent changes to social welfare spending to prevent future spending abuse?
  • Have we put forward repealing unspent bonds (especially high speed rail)?
  • Have we eliminated all of those high-paying, cushy commissions that are landing pads for termed-out legislators?
  • How about implementing all of the cost-savings suggested in the comprehensive California Performance Review?
  • How about ending taxpayer-provided cars (two of them) for members of the legislature?
  • Or how about ending the use of legislatures using public funds to mail “push-surveys” to constituents?

I’ll add another: Have we eliminated the subsidies to community colleges, which cost the taxpayers over $4 billion per year? Yes, it will be hard on their students to have to pay market rates, but higher education is a public good, not an unalienable right. In times of hardship with no new revenues coming in, these are the hard choices we have to look at.

And speaking of new revenue, notice there’s no mention of exploiting this state’s vast natural resources to raise money through royalties. Former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore had a very good proposal to develop the vast oil wealth off the California coast by use of safe slant-drilling techniques for an estimated $16 billion a year in new revenue. That would go a long way toward curing our deficit. Why tax us into penury when we have “money in the vault?”

Back to Jerry’s proposal blackmail: the taxes he wants to extend were enacted as “temporary” measures in 2009, and voters defeated a ballot initiative that same year to extend them for two years — an initiative accompanied by similar dire warnings of DOOM! if it did not pass. We turned it down then 2-1 and, if Jerry and the liberal-statists who control the legislature want to have that battle again, bring it on. California has a spending problem, not a tax-revenue problem. Until we see deep cuts in spending to match revenue, new revenues outside of taxes, and changes in the ways the spending of our money takes place, the Mandarins of Green Dome on 10th Street get nothing.

PS. Anyone else note the deep irony of liberal Democrats, who proclaim their concern for the children ad nauseam, trying to get their way by threatening… the children? One could almost drown in the depths of their insincerity.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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One Response to California: Jerry Brown lives down to expectations

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