Adam Sparks’ post at Big Government about California’s financial woes breaks no new ground, mostly reiterating what I said earlier this month. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget, despite deep cuts, does little if anything to alleviate the impossible burden placed on California by its debt to state employee pension funds. A situation, in a touch of irony, created by Brown granting state employees collective bargaining rights during his first turn as governor back in the 1970s.
That said, recriminations don’t pay the bills. Brown is not stupid. Some of his ideas seem like the result of one too many bad trips at a Grateful Dead concert, but lacking intelligence is not one of his problems. Brown knows California is legally bound to its pension fund disaster until/unless relieved of its burden by judicial fiat. One suspects he is banking on this taking place. This would simultaneously relieve the state of what it could never afford and him of any blame for whatever actions legal actions transpire. Thus, he could not be held to task by the state unions which so fervently supported his election last fall.
I also do not believe Brown is evil incarnate. He is that rarity among liberals, namely one steeped in pragmatism as well as idealism. Brown does have the best interests of California at heart. He ran a much tougher, more focused campaign on the state’s financial woes than Meg Whitman. Also worth noting is the disingenuousness of accusing Brown with an attempt to raise taxes in the certain to come June special election. Nothing is going up. Rather, his proposals are to maintain certain taxes — sales, income — at their present level. Yes, the present level is elevated. This was done by the previous administration. To gripe that Brown is trying to raise taxes rings just as hollow as the spittle and phlegm flicked about by Democrats last year that maintaining the Bush tax rates was a tax cut for the wealthy. An equal amount is neither increase nor decrease.
That all said, the whole matter may be academic. Scientists are now warning that California is due for a winter superstorm that will turn the Central Valley into a lake, create floods that will make Noah a folk hero and force all state business to be conducted by submarine as Sacramento will be starring in the new film “The Revenge of Hetch Hetchy Valley.” And what is being blamed for this? Wait for it… here it comes… global warming! In so many words:
The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.
Which doesn’t explain how this last happened one hundred and fifty years ago, unless the gold miners created way more carbon emissions than earlier thought. Or something.
Ah well. If it isn’t earthquakes, it’s deluges. The price we pay (along with the highest taxes of any state) for living here.
As a certain local band once said, at least we’re enjoying the ride.