Experts Expound

Experts Expound

“The public has lost faith in the leaders’ ability to deal with the state budget crisis. So how would you solve the budget crisis?”

There is no solution to the budget crisis.

First, I’d restore representative democracy by repealing the two-thirds requirement. Then, I’d rely on accounting gimmicks and rosy assumptions.

I would pass redistricting reform

Everyone’s budget across the board is reduced by 10 percent and a 1 percent income tax increase on everyone until a budget resolution is reached. It puts pressure on both sides and forces them to negotiate: Republicans to stop a real tax increase and Democrats to stop a budget reduction.

Get rid of prevailing wage, eliminate subsides of professional education programs at UC and CSU programs (why subsidize the education of more attorneys when we could subsidize those that practice public interest law?), eliminate IHSS care that is provided for by family members that should not be paid for fulfilling a family responsibility, place restrictions on the land and allow private companies to run some of our state parks….

Allow local governments greater ability to put tax increases before the voters to pay for local services, abandon some rural roads that only serve a small number of land owners, stop charging people with death penalty when it is not going to be implemented, allow video in courtrooms and get rid of court reporting under the current method, consolidate county governments in the north and break up some in the south…

Move more state services to be available on-line, have political parties pay for their own primary elections, eliminate minimum standards for inmate care to allow tent cities, allow huge class size increases in high schools for non-lab instruction, eliminate every single education categorical program and give 50% of that total directly to school districts with no strings attached, and give legislators a financial incentive to cut spending. Their per diem amount would be set by $100 per day plus $100 per day for every billion that is cut from the budget of the previous year.

Dissolve the Legislature and run the state by proposition.

First, make it mandatory that lawmakers forfeit a day’s pay for every day the budget is late. Second, turn off the AC. Voila! An on-time budget.

Well, first I’d posture and strut and preen for about six months, during which time I’d propose solutions that I know are unacceptable to anyone with an IQ above 6. I’d make sure to fire off broadsides at anyone who disagreed with my proposals, suggesting the obvious — that the worldview of critics and those with counterproposals is one step removed from that of the Gestapo. As for selling my solutions to the public, I’d promote pandering at the expense of honesty.

If that didn’t work, I’d come up with some reasonable way to spread the pain, be honest and transparent with taxpayers, find some combination of cuts and revenue enhancements, and take my case to the public. As for those pesky tax increases, how about a temporary split-role property tax boost for corporate California, with a definite sunset.

It’s got to be cuts and revenue increases. Anything short of that is not a solution, and everyone knows it.

This is a lot simpler than many people think. There are some rules: First, more money is supposed to come in than go out. Second, if you tax the rich they will leave, (well maybe not the Hollywood set since they didn’t work for it). For every guy who pays taxes like our governor did ($2.6M when he ran in the recall), there needs to be 1,000 jobs created for (each person) who leaves. Not happening.

With the advent of AAA and others who are leaving the state because of high taxes and an unfriendly regulatory environment (which seriously includes employment law although most won’t discuss it), the Legislature should cut both expenditures and taxes.

Lower taxes will increase revenue (even the Bush administration proved that). The economy is going to get worse before it gets better and the current democratic proposals will deepen the recession here in California.

Well, this year is hopeless…legislators will push as much off to a future year as their political cowardice will allow them and the governor just wants to be the good-news action hero at the end of the process. I’d temporarily raise taxes and cut spending, in equal amounts.

But here are other options for future years: change the constitution to allow budget passage by less than a two-thirds vote; eliminate the automatic spending lock-ins for schools and transportation and any other programs; reform reapportionment process so at least SOME districts would become competitive and there might be some political consequences for being an uncompromising right or left winger. But then none of this is likely to be approved by the voters, so we will be back to the nauseating, budget merry-go-round process for years to come. I’m reminded of the words of humorist Will Rogers, who said, “Politicians are just a bunch of little boys [and girls, too, now] who never growed up anyway.”

The people from whom we sought opinions: Andrew Acosta, A.G. Block, Mark Bogetich, Barry Brokaw, Morgan Crinklaw, J. Dale Debber, Peter DeMarco, Jim Evans, Kathy Fairbanks, Jeff Fuller, Rex Frazier, Ken Gibson, Evan Goldberg, Deborah Gonzalez, Sandy Harrison, Bob Hertzberg, Jason Kinney, Mike Madrid, Nicole Mahrt, Steve Maviglio, Adam Mendelsohn, Barbara O’Connor, Bill Packer, Kassy Perry, Jack Pitney, Adam Probolsky, Tony Quinn, Matt Rexroad, Matt Ross, Roger Salazar, Dan Schnur, Will Shuck, Ralph Simoni, Sam Sorich, Ray Sotero, Gary South, Kevin Spillane, Rich Zeiger.


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