Dare I say it, no, I can’t, seriously I am still too embarrassed. California has finally done something right, no they have not tar and feathered Nancy Pelosi, yet, but they took a small step into the right direction by turning down 5 out of 6 special election budget emergency measures. Why am I saying this is a victory? I am a fiscal conservative, libertarian (small government – personal responsibility), and one who believes people can solve their own issues better then politicians can. The only measure that passes was one that caps lawmaker’s pay as well as other elected state officials during times when the state is running a deficit. I like this idea, it is almost a performance incentive to NOT run a deficit, almost. Remember I said this was a step in the right direction, not a huge leap.
California rejected expanding its general fund, raiding education and mental health funds, extending raised taxes for another year, burrowing money form itself with promises of lottery funding to make up the principle, and crazy ways to do what over 60% of the voters knew needed to happen. TRIM THE GOVERNMENT. As California is the most populist state it has to have the largest state government, this is a reality. As the most populist state they enjoy the largest tax revenue of the country, this is also a reality. How then can they have gotten into the largest budget deficit in US history for a state, $21.3 billion by July according to AP? All this after a dramatic $15 billion is state budget spending cuts and raising $12 billion in new and increased taxes? This isn’t brain surgery or rocket science, its basic math, they are spending more then they are earning and not doing what they tell their citizens to do, tighten the belt and sacrifice.
Here is the catch-22 of the situation, the state of California is the largest employer in California! Cutting spending means cutting jobs and that in turn means cutting tax revenue and increasing state unemployment payouts! Oh, the madness. Here is the reality and painful truth of life in a liberal system when the cows come home, chickens come in to roost, a rainy day occurs. The state has placed so many entitlements, programs, policies, and systems into place that when a major fiscal crisis happens the whole system is unsustainable. God forbid the ‘big one’ hits, California is obviously not fiscally prepared for any emergency.
When times are good it is easy to spend money, as GM and their decision to concede to labor unions on benefits in the 1980’s and 1990’s. When times are bad is when all the bills are going to come due at once. California needs to go on a massive diet and change the way it approaches government. Unless a program, policy, or fund is vital, and I mean vital, for one to live and function then it needs to go. What about all those people laid off? Put them to work at lowest wages doing public services and limit state welfare to those working on said programs, its called workfare and Bill Clinton made it famous. Streamline and automate as much as possible. Sure people will suffer and many will move. Unfortunately that is life. The job of government is not to provide for you, its job is to protect you so you can provide for yourself. The voters did a great first step, rejecting political solutions to a real financial crisis. It is time the California legislators take a note on all that failed and the 1 measure that passed, what this means is the citizens want taxes, fees, and spending CUT, government reduced, and services balanced to include all and not enrich some while not servicing all.
Want some serious solutions to some serious problems?
- All state workers pay is cut to a scale proportionate to the minimum wage, lowest levels get 5% above minimum wage, every level above that gets 2% increase and capped at $75k/year.
- The state goes into proration, hiring and pay raise freezes, until the budget is solvent and able to afford such.
- All elected state and local officials pay is cut to $50k~$80k/year based on level until state is solvent.
- NO UNIONS IN GOVERNMENT.
- No overtime pay until state is solvent.
- All state facilities have to cut energy and operating costs to cover 8 hour work days and 5 days a week.
- All state and local employees/elected officials HAVE to take public transportation, except for emergency services of course.
- Sell off the state vehicles to a minimum and restrict usage. All state paid employees will work in shifts, only top level managers work 40 hours a week.
- Workfare will utilize people for public works only. On welfare, you must work 20 hours a week on public works projects like road construction, garbage collection, city beautification, parks maintenance, etc. No work, no benefits unless 3 seperate doctors declair you incapable of labor.
- Make deals with businesses to provide services for targeted tax breaks, drug companies get a 5% tax cut for providing wholesale or at cost medications to hospitals.
- State employees and workfare people get 5% above cost medical treatment.
- Reduce red tape and paperwork 40% across all government agencies.
- Suspend spending on non essential programs indefinitely, no state money to fund fisheries, research and development, etc. That is a luxury that can be funded when there is money to spend.
- Suspend textbook, school uniform, and equipment spending indefinitely, school administrators will have to manage and stretch resources until funding returns.
- No tax increases until unemployment is at acceptable levels, say less then 9%.
- Flat taxes, state sales tax, state income tax, state property tax, etc. Say 6% sales, 7% income, 8% property, etc.
- No complete tax exemptions for anyone until the state is in the black.
- All future surplus funds will be placed in trust to only be used in the event of a natural or man made disaster or with a 2/3 majority popular vote in times of extreme state financial crisis, never to be more then 1 year’s fiscal spending averaged and adjusted for inflation.
- Suspend all current contracts until fiscal health and a balanced budget or surplus is achieved.
This would just need to be the tip of the ice burg. Just as when a person takes a financial hit in their lives, the government needs to respond in kind. Get a fine or laid off, get rid of cable and all luxury spending until you can afford it. Government in trouble, stop spending money on stupid things until you can afford it! California is unique in that its economy is larger then many countries, however its government is less efficient then those countries. California needs to break new ground in fixing its fiscal mess, else you are just putting a post-it note over the hole in the dam. When a government gets too top heavy there are 2 options, it fails or it becomes oppressive by instituting cost generating measures that stagnate all future growth.
The measures I listed are a conservative’s dream and things that will never realistically even come close to happening. However they are extreme examples of ideas that could be implemented to continue to cut fat away from the bloated California budget. It is true you don’t want to cut muscle or bone, but if the limb is beyond repair and you will die if you keep it, you have to amputate. California is looking at a budget deficit that has a great potential to kill the state unless they amputate all the fat and some of the services that can not be sustained in bad times as well as good. Wake up California legislators, the citizens of your state want a set or real fiscal solutions, not 3 card monty or token cuts that amount to nothing. Good going California, your actions have restored my faith that the state is looking at the right solutions to a real fiscal disaster.