Written by Roger Hedgecock, former Mayor of San Diego
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
I live in California. If you were wondering what living in Obama's second term would be like, wonder no longer. We in California are living there now.
California is a one-party state dominated by a virulent Democrat Left enabled by a complicit media where every agency of local, county, and state government is run by and for the public employee unions. The unemployment rate is 12%.
California has more folks on food stamps than any other state, has added so many benefits and higher rates to Medicaid that we call it "Medi-Cal." Our K-12 schools have more administrators than teachers, with smaller classes but lower test scores and higher dropout rates with twice the per-student budget of 15 years ago. Good job, Brownie.
This week, the once and current Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown had to confess that the "balanced" state budget adopted five months ago was billions in the red because actual tax revenues were billions lower than the airy-fairy revenue estimates on which the balance was predicated.
After trimming legislators' perks and reducing the number of cell phones provided to state civil servants, the governor intoned that drastic budget reductions had already hollowed out state programs for the needy, law enforcement and our schoolchildren. California government needed more money.
Echoing the Occupy movement, the governor proclaimed the rich must pay their fair share. Fair share? The top 1% of California income earners currently pays 50% of the state's income tax. California has seven income tax brackets. The top income tax rate is 9.3%, which is slapped on the greedy rich earning at least $47,056 a year. Income of more than $1 million pays the "millionaires' and billionaires'" surcharge tax rate of 10.3%.
Brown's proposal would add 2% for income over $250,000. A million- dollar income would then be taxed at 12.3%. And that's just for the state. Brown also proposed a one-half-cent sales tax increase, which would bring sales taxes (which vary by county) up to 7.75% to as much as 10%. Both tax increases would be on the ballot in 2012. The sales tax increase proposal immediately brought howls of protest from the Left (of Brown!). Charlie Eaton, a sociology grad student at UC Berkeley and leader of the UC Student-Workers Union, said, "We've paid enough. It's time for millionaires to pay."
At least five other ballot measures to raise taxes are circulating for signatures to get on the 2012 ballot in California . The governor's proposals are the most conservative. The Obama way doesn't end with taxes.
The governor and the state legislature continue to applaud the efforts of the California High Speed Rail Authority to build a train connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco . Even though the budget is three times the voter-approved amount, and the first segment will only connect two small towns in the agricultural Central Valley . But hey, if we build it, they will ride. And we don't want to turn down the Obama bullet-train bucks Florida and other states rejected because the operating costs would bankrupt them. Can't happen here because we're already insolvent.
If we get into real trouble with the train, we'll just bring in the Chinese. It worked with the Bay Bridge reconstruction. After the 1989 earthquake, the bridge connecting Oakland and San Francisco was rebuilt with steel made in China . Workers from China too. Paid for with money borrowed from China . Makes perfect sense.
In California , we hate the evil, greedy rich (except the rich in Hollywood , in sports, and in drug dealing). But we love people who have broken into California to eat the bounty created by the productive rich. Illegals get benefits from various generous welfare programs, free medical care, free schools for their kids, including meals, and of course, instate tuition rates and scholarships too. Nothing's too good for our guests.
To forestall even a hint of criticism of illegal immigration, the California Legislature is considering a unilateral state amnesty. Democrat State Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes has proposed an initiative that would bar deportation of illegals from California . Interesting dilemma for Obama there. If immigration is exclusively a federal matter, and Obama has sued four states for trying to enforce federal immigration laws he won't enforce, what will the President do to a California law that exempts California from federal immigration law?
California is also near fulfilling the environmentalist dream of deindustrialization. After driving out the old industrial base (auto and airplane assembly, for example), air and water regulators and tax policies are now driving out the high-tech, biotech and even Internet-based companies that were supposed to be California's future. The California cap-and-trade tax on business in the name of reducing CO2 makes our state the leader in wacky environmentalism and guarantees a further job exodus from the state. Even green energy companies can't do business in California . Solyndra went under, taking its taxpayer loan guarantee with it.
No job is too small to escape the regulators. The state has even banned weekend amateur gold miners from the historic gold mining streams in the Sierra Nevada Mountains . In fact, more and more of California 's public land is off-limits to recreation by the people who paid for that land. Unless you're illegal. Then you can clear the land, set up marijuana plantations at will, bring in fertilizers that legal farmers can no longer use, exploit illegal farm workers who live in hovels with no running water or sanitation, and protect your investment with armed illegals carrying guns no California citizen is allowed to own.
The rest of us only found out about these plantations when the workers' open campfire started one of those devastating fires that have killed hundreds of people and burned out thousands of homes in California over the last decade.
It's often said that whatever happens in California will soon happen in your state. You'd better hope that's wrong.