Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We're All California Now.

Does this sound familiar?

But really, this budget is filled with worrisome cuts. Deep cuts to higher education that will force higher taxes tuition for students. Delays to K12 funding that will challenge our teachers and hurt our next generation. And, as noted already, some very real cuts to law enforcement. As Sen. [ ] has pointed out several times in the press, we are now at one of the most austere budgets in a generation or more.

But even with this austerity, we have not arrived at anything representing stability. There are a plethora of reasons for that, but the biggest of all of these is clearly [ ] insistence on a preference for income and sales taxes over the more stable property tax. Sure, this budget includes the [ ] tax provisions championed by [ ] and [ ], but these revenue sources are hardly sufficient to overcome the loss of the taxes at the end of the month.

As the dominoes fall from this budget, expect instability to continue to raise its head. Already several counties have discussed applying a local tax to recover some of the cuts from the loss of the [ ] tax. Expect such a measure to appear to show up as soon as the November ballot in [ ], and perhaps elsewhere next year.

These funding levels themselves are unsustainable for the long haul. Eventually things fall apart. Infrastructure crumbles, the mentally ill are exposed through homelessness and crime, and the state becomes a less welcoming place for rich and poor alike. And when you talk about business friendly climates, stability is always at the top of the list. For so long we have been able to balance the act through super glue, chewing gum and duct tape. And so it goes this year, with the "triggers" being this year's duct tape.

I could be talking about the federal debt hostage debacle that's still playing out today, or I could be talking about the state budget madness that ended in yet another insufficient, kick-the-can-down-the-road-again compromise. Guess what? This was actually California's budget, and in far too many ways what has happened in California in the last 30 years refused to stay in The Golden State. Rather, the radical right has used its successful implementation of constant paralysis and "austerity" as a blueprint for infecting other states... And now, the federal government as well!

Trust me, I lived through it. It's a very familiar feeling to me. The radical right strongarms Republicans into silly "no tax pledges" that lead to not-so-silly political "hostage crises" that lead to government shutdown, and ultimately disgusting "bargains" that throw seniors and disabled onto the streets, make the working poor even poorer (and perhaps out of work, too), bleed public education dry, and ultimately make lousy economies even worse. Time after time, this is what a crazed minority causes in California. And now, it's going national.

When anyone asks why California politics is so dysfunctional, remember to provide the real answer. Oh, and make sure to let one know that this is what will happen to Nevada and the nation as well if we allow the "tea party" extremists to amass any more power.

Am I disappointed with this debt deal? You betcha. Do I wish for more and better progressive Democrats to fight harder against this nonsense? Of course. However, I refuse to ignore the real cause of this crisis. I lived in California far too long to miss the real culprits behind this garbage, and I know the only way to stop it is to stop allowing these reactionary radicals to become any more powerful.

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