Capitol chaos chokes California
December 11, 2003
Leaders are supposed to lead. It seems like a pretty simple concept. It would seem to come with the job descriptions of state senator, assemblyman and governor.
As the Legislature and governor worked into the night to come up with some sort of fiscal blueprint for the state, one had to wonder why they were waiting to the last possible moment. Thursday’s late-night wrangling had to do with getting a spending cap initiative onto the March ballot. It would mean the state borrowing $15 billion.
Normally this time of year the legislators are in their respective districts communing with constituents and planning for the next session. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had other plans for them. They keep being called back into special session because the deadline is today to put something on the March ballot.
We elect these suits to go to Sacramento to make decisions for us. We already made the decision to send them to the Capitol. Why is it that we are likely going to have to make some monumental fiscal decision? This is what they are paid to do. This is their job.
The state’s bond rating continues to decline. Maybe if it tried to be more business friendly, revenues would increase. It seems simple, instead of borrowing, start making money.
Yes, California is in a world of hurt – still. The chaos only got worse with the change in leadership. First Gov. Gray Davis said triple the Vehicle License Fee. The cities and counties were thrilled with this because it meant hundreds of thousands of dollars for them. Dollars that have been sent their way for years, which have been budgeted accordingly.
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Of course for the average car owner it would have been painful. A family making about $45,000 with a van and say a 14-year-old Honda pays about $200 now. Davis’ plan would have had them pay $600 a year. That is a hefty increase. Government fleets are exempt from the VLF.
Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, and state Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, were not in favor of the fee spike. Both also want the backfill so local governments are not having to cut services. Already South Lake Tahoe has slashed each department by 5 percent.
With no backfill, the residents of the city and El Dorado County are going to feel the effects in even stronger and more apparent ways.
While on the campaign trail, Schwarzenegger pledged to repeal the tripling of the VLF and backfill the funds for local governments. He kept the first part of the promise. It is time he kept the latter.
Leslie’s office admits there is no way to appease everyone when money is so tight. Much of the spending allotments in the state budget, like most public agency budgets, are predetermined by percentages, like K-12 education getting 40 plus percent of the budget. It will be unrestricted funds which get whacked.
Maybe it is just time to recall the whole Legislature since they do not seem to be doing their jobs.
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