Saturday, January 12, 2013

A balanced budget is not enough. We must bring back the Future.

California Governor Jerry Brown has unveiled a balanced California budget. Well, with some assumptions and federal money, but still a balanced budget with far less gimmicks than his two predecessors used. And there is at least a slight increase in support to the state colleges and universities and social services. Not bad, not bad at all.

But the Govnernor can do more, especially with a 2/3rds majority in the State Senate and House:

1. Debate (yes, debate to bring attention to the public) and then pass legislation to restore market rates in valuing property taxes for real property that is commercial. The restoration of market rates should be phased in over three years. In a sentence, we are reforming Proposition 13 so that it continues to protect private homeowners, but will not protect business people any longer. Business people like the market? They get to have the market.

2. Continue cutting prison costs by ensuring we find a way to let those convicted of drug offenses find their way back into society. I'd rather see people returned to their families and communities after drug rehabilitation treatment than spend the $50,000 a year the State spends to house them in prisons that are overcrowded and require the State to build more and more prisons--a very significant reason for the increased prison spending over the years.

3. It's time for California to enact an oil extraction tax. Texas and Alaska do it. In fact, every State in the USA which has oil extracted from the grounds of such States has an oil extraction tax.

The point here is to begin to bring back the future. California used to represent the future. But our State became an anachronism like Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Having first class public schools from K to post-graduate, having transportation systems that were beautiful and functional, and maintaining the awe of nature at its most pleasant and beautiful are what made California such a unique and wonderful place. Our anti-tax rhetoric and our mantras of "California is ungovernable" undermined the confidence our citizens had in our State.

We have taken an important step forward with the proposition results in November. We need leadership from the governor and the Democratic Party majority to take the next steps to achieve true success.

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