The size of California State government is ENORMOUS. All of the debate that we hear about is focused directly on the 100 BILLION++ general fund of the state budget. But if you want to look at the big picture, you need to add to this number TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in additional state spending that is not included in this discussion – in “special funds” where funds come in from taxes that are not called taxes (they call them by a pseudonym, “fees” and say they take only a majority, not a 2/3 vote to enact) and these taxes go to specific programs, and then they are “moved off-budget” into this other (ignored in the current debate) corner, out of sight.
Let us also not forget the BILLIONS OF BILLIONS of already authorized bonded indebtedness that occurred and will continue to occur, without so much as another vote of the people (or in the case of those scandalous “prison bonds” – without a vote of the people). All of this adds up to just a VAST and MASSIVE amount of money that California taxpayers, present and future are going to be coercively paying (or in the case of the borrowing, paying back).
The reason that I bring this up is that I get more than a little frustrated when I hear that there are folks out there who get “frustrated” because the legislative process is not dominated by moderates. The folks who feel that “partisan gridlock” has taken over Sacramento, creating some kind of paralysis that is keeping state government from functioning, when NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
I don’t know any other way to say this than to be blunt about it – there is no gridlock in Sacramento, or “epic battle” between right and left (one envisions the constellations of a Republican elephant and Democrat Donkey fighting in the sky for eons, neither ever winning). The reality is this: the liberals win over, and over, and over again. Period.
It’s not only a true statement, but it is very easy to prove. All you have to do is apply this simple test, as I have done, and it will be staggering how poorly conservatives are doing in the “big picture” conflict.
Liberals want to increase the size and scope of state government. They want to raise taxes (preferably from “the rich”) and then create more and more programs so that these funds can be redistributed in massive social engineering programs. Liberals think that it is immoral for all of the “social injustice” in the state to be ignored.
Conservatives want to shrink the size and scope of state government. They want to reduce the tax burden on Californians, and reduce and eliminate California programs, and reduce amount of laws that infringe on the freedom and liberty of Californians (and on local governments). Conservatives think it is immoral to take money from taxpayers except as a needed and last resort.
With the stage set, guess what? The liberals win over and over again. I keep looking back in the history of California state government for those years where the GOP posts wins, and the budget shrinks, that spending goes down, that major programs are eliminated, that the tax burden on Californians is substantially reduced. It never happens.
The best case that you might be able to make, if you can imagine this, is that but for the MODERATE impact that Republicans have had in Sacramento, we would have more taxes, we would have more taxes not called taxes (fees), and we would have even more programs and ways to spend taxpayer dollars.
This is why I get more than a little rankled when I keep hearing about “gridlock” and the need to figure out how to “moderate” all of the politicians in Sacramento. If people are feeling that way, it must be about the ultra-liberal Democrats who dominate the process. To be honest, in Sacramento, Republicans, who are largely in the minority, just don’t matter in the policy debate.
Yeah, there are some votes that require a 2/3 majority of each house. But can you remember a time when Republicans sat down and said, “until you give us a budget that spends less than last year, actually eliminates programs, and actually eliminates some taxes, we simply won’t vote for a budget.”
Of course you cannot remember such a time, because it hasn’t happened.
There is a saying I heard once, that goes like this: “To compromise between those who want to grow government, and those who don’t want government to grow always ends up in the middle – growing government, but a little more slowly.”
Imagine that the battle of politics and policy in the State Capitol is a big game of football (the American kind). A touchdown for Democrats means bigger state government, and a touchdown for Republicans means smaller state government..
The reality is that the GOP has only fielded its defensive team for years and years, which means there have been no Republican touchdowns, only Democrat touchdowns. And when the Democrats go for a touchdown, and on that play the GOP is able to stop them, somehow this is trumpeted as a victory for Republicans. Like in football, you cannot win if your offensive team never gets on the field.
So groups out there like this new one “California Forward” that say that we have too much “partisan gridlock” in Sacramento are really not being realistic at all. Because by every indicator that one can use, the cause of freedom and liberty is losing to the cause of socialism and centralized, large state government day after day, year after year.
I guess to continue with my football analogy, it seems that some want to take out of the game the most fervent and passionate players from both teams, and they believe that this is going to somehow make a difference. Well, it will make a difference. It will disproportionately help the liberal team who have a huge advantage – many more players on the field.
If we need reforms in Sacramento, they should be geared towards creating real opportunities for the "other team" to be able to score a touchdown. But this talk of “moderating” the legislature is a bunch of hooey, if it means throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We need more hard-line conservatives in the legislature not less. And fewer liberals. Any other path simply will facilitate, as some level, bigger and more state government.
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