SYLVIA'S SOAPBOX: THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET MESS

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

By Sylvia Hampton

 

August 2009 (San Diego) -- I was born in Chicago and grew up in St. Louis Missouri. Back in “the day” I thought California was the coolest state with the best of everything---youth, sun, beauty, film making, innovation, and good government. It had the best schools and led the way on bright ideas. Then along came the anti-tax, anti-environmental protection, anti-public schools, anti-gay, anti-evolution, pro-assault weapon, pro-three strikes, flat earth society crowd to change all that. They took great advantage of their minority status to make demands on the majority because their votes were needed to get that pesky two thirds super majority vote to pass the budget. Now we are cutting education funding, environmental protections and social services and to hell with the consequences.

California is no longer the “golden” state, but the state of chaos.

California is one of the richest states in the nation. Yet our guys sat around hoping for a federal bailout to save them from the reality of a $26 billion budget gap with the Republicans blocking any new revenues and fighting for prison funding and the Democrats beating their heads against the wall trying to save social services and especially schools . They sent out IOUs to creditors and school administrators spent sleepless nights wondering how much worse it could get. And then finally the news of the new budget came.

Education takes a $9 billion hit. Less health and welfare for the poor. In-home aid for 40,000 reduced. Borrow money from cities and counties. Reduce number of work days for state workers. Universities and Community Colleges---expect more applications but less money to support systems and up to 10% salary cuts. Prisons took a cut, too, but not that much.

But read those lips. No new taxes. Not on soft drinks that make our kids fat and rot their teeth, not on luxury items or multimillionaire incomes and not on anything except general sales, which hits the poor workers the hardest.

 

Even newspapers in the United Kingdom took note or our debacle. The Guardian writer Sasha Abramsky said our problem is the result of “ ….too many special interests feeding off the public trough, at least in part through pushing spending proposals via the initiative process. A public willing to mandate a generous array of programmes into existence but unwilling to cough up tax revenues to fund it. A political culture that follows public opinion rather than seeking to lead. An initiative process that almost guarantees political incoherence. A tax-and-budget process that guarantees annual political stalemate. And a term-limits system, passed in the heyday of anti-government rhetoric in the 1990s, that discourages expertise and too often discourages high-calibre personnel from seeking public office.”

 

I just hate being lectured by the country we revolted against over 200 years ago, don’t you? Especially with that funny accent.

 

Sylvia Hampton is a community activist inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of fame for 2008 for her work in the fields of healthcare reform, social justice and reproductive health. She is the past president of the League of Women Voters of San Diego County and served on President Nixon’s Title X Family Planning Council. Her monthly Community Forum column is published in the Rancho Bernardo Sun, Diamond Gateway Signature, and her Soapbox in the East County Magazine. Opinions are Sylvia’s alone and not to be interpreted as the policies of the League of Women Voters or East County Magazine.