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Bill Leonard

Hard Numbers; Numbing Facts

I looked over the state Legislative Analyst’s recent report about the fiscal outlook for next year.  I certainly was not expecting any good news, but I at least expected a realistic view of the dire situation the state is in.  I was stunned by what I saw.  The LAO is projecting a 14.5% increase in expenditures next year over this year.  Go ahead, read that sentence again: he is saying the state will spend 14.5% MORE money next year than this year. 

In part that is because many of the sneaky "savings" games the Governor and Legislature have played will expire.  No more borrowing from cities, stealing from redevelopment agencies, or shifting state employees’ December payday into the next calendar year.  At the same time, federal stimulus money will expire and our state’s debt service will soar.

To put this into perspective, consider these figures distilled in a recent issue of Political Pulse: In 1990-91 the state spent $1,350 per person.  By the current fiscal year, that was up to $2,644 per person.  Have you seen double the benefit from the state since 1990?  Political Pulse says that if the state had limited its spending in those years to the average Consumer Price Index and population growth, our current surplus would be in the neighborhood of $15 billion. Instead, that figure represents just a portion of our deficit.

I came across some other numbers that help explain how such an insane situation developed.  According to my estimates, only about 34% of California residents pay income taxes. So if you look at your neighbors on either side of you, only one of you actually paid into the state coffers via income tax.  Unbelievably, there are 4.4 million MORE people registered to vote than people who paid income taxes.  Now, not all of those registered actually cast ballots, but it provides insight into the dynamic that is crippling our state.  When there are more takers than givers, the system cannot work and California’s system is not working in many, many ways. 

Some people look at these numbers and facts and lament that there is nothing to do but wait for the inevitable collapse of the state.  But that is not only extremely unlikely, it is irresponsible. It is as irresponsible for an individual who cannot pay his current bills to run up all his credit cards figuring that he will "just" declare bankruptcy and be done with it, sticking someone else with his bills.  We know that debt service has first call, then education, on all state funds, but to continue to accrue debt is reckless because that debt will be paid even if we shut down every state spending program.  We simply must cut spending and programming and services or whatever you want to call the outflow of money.  We must stop the budget smoke-and-mirrors that allow one year to look okay while pushing the pain into the next fiscal year.  Cut first, cut now.

3 Responses to “Hard Numbers; Numbing Facts”

  1. Says:

    Few if any pro-gun individualw will vote for any of these candidates. Gun voters are often single-issue candidates.

    Meg Whitman has made repeated disturbing public anti-gun statements. Tom Campbell is of the same mindset, but he tries to be wordy and “nuanced” (he speaks of “city vs. country” differences, as if those matter with respect to a fundamental enumerated right). Poizner has run awway from the issue into no-comment land; from what I’ve heard, he’s refused to meet with any NRA representative. (This may have changed, dunno.)

    A large fraction of California gunnies, esp the single-issue voters, are going to be voting for Jerry Brown because of this – he’s shown repeated individual support for 2nd Amendment rights issues in California.

    California gunnies are tired of being taken for granted by the CA Republican party. Show us the love, or we’ll show you an empty voting booth (or, on occasion, vote for a pro-gun Democrat, as there are indeed some).

    Bill Wiese
    San Jose CA

  2. Says:

    [Apologies for off-topic comment above, I replied in the wrong open window on my PC. It has been reposted in the appropriate area.]

    Bill Wiese
    San Jose

  3. Says:


    Save us the agonizing medieval drama…..roll over like Maldonado and vote for the annual taxes and spending for the unions, government workers and lobbyists….

    Your cracked crab, Chardonnay and exotic travel chits are waiting!!!!