Can California Be Saved? Part 3

1 year ago 185

California is worthy saving. The question is: Where bash we start?

This is Part 3 of my reappraisal of the caller book, “Saving California: Solutions to the state’s biggest argumentation problems.” It covers the last 3 chapters and the conclusion. The publication was edited by Steven Greenhut for the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). The erstwhile reviews are Part 1 and Part 2. As successful the earlier parts, successful this past portion I’ll beryllium emphasizing solutions.

Richard Mersereau: Building a Sustainable Budget

The large governmental philosopher Edmund Burke said authorities fundamentally is astir getting and spending taxation dollars. That’s surely existent with the California budget, which is covered successful Chapter 8 by Richard Mersereau, the erstwhile Chief Consultant to the California State Assembly Committee connected Revenue and Taxation and the Senate Committee connected Constitutional Amendments. If anybody knows budgets, helium does.

This twelvemonth the illusion was the authorities enjoyed a $38 cardinal fund surplus, according to the calculations of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst. Gov. Gavin Newsom, warring a callback attempt, exaggerated that to $72 billion, a whopper adjacent by California’s outsized standards of fund “fudging,” arsenic they telephone it successful the Capitol. The Leg Analyst besides noted the fig was impermanent and didn’t bash overmuch to impact the state’s underlying fiscal unsoundness.

Merserau’s investigation is clear, and frightening: “Long earlier the emergence of the coronavirus, however, successive gubernatorial administrations and the California Legislature abdicated their responsibilities: Even arsenic full and per capita authorities authorities revenues grew importantly successful real, inflation-adjusted terms, the state’s semipermanent indebtedness obligations and baseline fund spending grew by acold more. The cumulative effect is simply a looming fiscal situation of unprecedented size and scope.”

Before looking astatine solutions, let’s cheque revenues and spending from 2 charts Mersereau provides. The archetypal shows however overmuch California depends connected superior gains taxes, particularly from Silicon Valley. The Valley keeps increasing contempt the state’s precocious taxes. The astute machine nerds proceed to travel to question their fortunes. And erstwhile they onslaught it affluent and bargain a yacht, the wealth is taxed astatine the state’s 13.3 percent rate—at slightest earlier immoderate of them caput disconnected to Texas.

Epoch Times Photo

Nobody tin foretell the future. But announcement erstwhile it dropped, arsenic successful the dot-com bust of the aboriginal 2000s, past the Great Recession, it dropped large time. The COVID-19 crisis, acold from hurting Silicon Valley and its accumulation of gross for California, kept everyone locked down and utilizing iPhones, Android, and different devices portion binge watching connected Netflix, buying worldly from Amazon, and ordering junk nutrient delivered by Uber.

But here’s the caution: The illustration of the maturation of authorities spending, below.

Epoch Times Photo

You don’t request an 800 people connected your Math SAT to spot the maturation successful status (public-employee pensions) and Medi-Cal payment are increasing truthful accelerated they volition chew up immoderate caller gross generated by Silicon Valley.

Of the legislature’s spiking of pensions, Mersereau notes, “SB 400 has proven devastating for authorities and section authorities budgets. A nationalist worker pension program that erstwhile was afloat funded present has an unfunded liability of much than $167 cardinal by blimpish estimates. Despite humble reforms and accrued payments by the state, the full pension liability has grown by much than $100 cardinal successful the past 10 years.”

Budget Solutions

So what tin beryllium done?

1. First: Do nary harm. “The archetypal reply is temperamental: California lawmakers request to admit the value of its still-vibrant backstage assemblage and halt imposing costly caller burdens upon it.”

That means: No caller taxes and regulations. The second particularly volition beryllium hard for a radical of politicians anxious to enforce their favored priorities connected the state—even arsenic Tesla and hundreds of different companies support leaving.

2. Make efficiencies to chopped costs. “Explicit show and productivity enhancements and metrics crossed California authorities government, adjacent a 1-3 percent outgo reduction, volition marque a existent difference. … Implementing ‘best practices’ from different states, arsenic good arsenic from our ain section governments, tin effect successful important outgo savings successful each areas of government.”

If the Employment Development Department had listened to section territory attorneys connected payment fraud anterior to COVID, billions could person been saved from each the fraud perpetrated particularly by prisoners.

3. Lawmakers indispensable play by the rules. Currently, the Assembly leaders often deep-six bully betterment bills without adjacent a little hearing. Proposition 54 from 2016, which mandates a three-day play successful which a measure indispensable beryllium enactment online earlier a ballot is taken, often is flouted. That gives legislators, media and citizens inadequate clip to reappraisal the bills.

4. Pension reform. Because the legislature refuses to act, initiatives indispensable beryllium advanced.

5. End the “California Rule.” That unwritten edict says pension agreements cannot beryllium changed going forward, making it astir intolerable to beforehand reforms without national approval. “No different authorities interprets its nationalist worker pension laws successful this manner.”

This betterment ought to beryllium bipartisan. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island could not person precocious her reforms with the “California Rule” successful place. Her ain betterment worked truthful well, and impressed different Democrats truthful much, Joe Biden made promoted her to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

6. Again usage wide money revenues for infrastructure projects. This method precluded the irresponsible enslaved backing of projects of caller years. Although involvement rates are debased now, they are bound to spell higher, adding to the wide costs. As successful backstage oregon concern beingness “pay arsenic you go” is the champion mode to go.

7. Stop the waste. Especially wasteful has been the fake high-speed obstruction project. Its lone celerity is successful wasting taxation money. “An ever-growing chorus of legislators—Democrat and Republican—are consenting to admit world and re-direct billions of taxation dollars—including $4.1 cardinal successful unappropriated HSR enslaved funds, unneurotic with 25 percent of each greenhouse state revenues continuously appropriated to HSR—to acold amended use.”

8. Switch backmost to a part-time Legislature. Texas and Florida get by conscionable good with part-time legislatures. California would bash amended arsenic well. Less clip for mischief.

Daniel M. Kolkey: California Burning: Wildfires and Climate Change

It’s go each excessively familiar: Drought, energy blackouts and wildfires sparked by energy lines burning down adust forests. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s enactment plan: chopped California greenhouse-gas emissions, already down to 1 percent of the planetary total.

Daniel M. Kolkey is simply a erstwhile counsel to Gov. Pete Wilson and erstwhile subordinate justness of the California Court of Appeal. He writes, “The authorities should person alternatively weighed the marginal payment of further accelerating its greenish vigor goals against the accrued outgo of vigor to the nationalist and the diversion of resources distant from measures indispensable to mitigate the consequences of clime change, including the expanding wildfire risk.”

The contiguous task ought to beryllium to trim wildfires, due to the fact that “the fires successful 2018 released much than 45 cardinal metric tons of c dioxide into the atmosphere, producing much than 9 times much emissions than were reduced successful 2017.”

He quotes a survey by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which found, “wildfires relationship for up to 25 percent of tiny particulate substance aerial contamination successful the U.S. successful caller years.”

Reducing Wildfires

Kolkey’s solutions:

1. Thin the forests. “As an archetypal matter, much and sustained backing volition beryllium indispensable to enactment efforts to bladed millions of acres of forests and region dormant timber and adust brushwood upon which fires prey astatine an alarmingly accelerated rate.”

2. Better usage of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, 68 percent of funds “went to a drawback container of projects different than addressing the consequences of clime change.” The discarded included:

  • $499 cardinal to the slug bid boondoggle;
  • $399 cardinal to “affordable lodging and sustainable communities”;
  • $200 cardinal to “transit and intercity obstruction capital”;
  • $100 cardinal to “transit operations.”

Just $200 cardinal went to “healthy and resilient forests,” which would see prescribed burns to bladed forests. This item, I would add, was enactment by Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, into SB 901 from 2018. Gov. Jerry Brown signed it.

Brown, unfortunately, vetoed a 2016 measure by Moorlach, SB 1463, that would person precocious undergrounding powerfulness lines.

Solutions are retired there. They conscionable request to beryllium enacted.

3. Thin unhealthy forests. “Ironically, Native Americans utilized controlled burns successful forests to trim specified wildfire risks, but, until recently, the authorities has rejected specified past contented successful favour of rapidly putting retired fires.”

4. Pass authorities to streamline prescribed burns. Numerous regulations, including the ubiquitously deleterious California Environmental Quality Act, interfere with due attraction of the forests.

“For instance, aft the Camp Fire destroyed the municipality of Paradise connected Nov. 8, 2018, section officials sought to get support for forest-thinning projects. But it took 2 years aft the archetypal exertion for support for the declaration for 1 of the projects to adjacent spell retired for bidding. This included 17 months to get last support from CAL FIRE.”

And however galore trees does it instrumentality to people each those regulations, besides worsening the situation the regulations are expected to save?

5. Exercise the Governor’s exigency powers. If the Legislature won’t act, nether Government Code Section 8588, the politician is authorized connected conditions “of utmost peril to the information of persons and property,” specified arsenic occurrence oregon drought.

There person been valid accusations Gov. Newsom exceeded his exigency powers during the pandemic. But wildfires burning radical to a crisp seems to acceptable the bill.

6. More national wood thinning. The politician should impulse the state’s almighty legislature delegation to importune the U.S. Forest Service bladed much forests. I would adhd Vice President Kamala Harris, a Californian, ought to beryllium urged to get involved, if they tin find wherever she is.

7. Tax incentives to assistance homeowners successful occurrence areas upgrade to fire-resistant materials.

Sally Pipes: Toward a Healthier California

Although aesculapian argumentation mostly is simply a national matter—I conscionable got stuck connected Medicare myself—the authorities has a relation to play arsenic well. Sally Pipes is the president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. For much than a decennary she has written immoderate of the astir incisive criticisms of Obamacare and national and authorities wellness argumentation successful general.

She begins with existent Secretary of Human Services Xavier Becerra. While California’s lawyer general, helium “led an effort by 20 states and the District of Columbia to support the Affordable Care Act against an effort by the Trump medication and much than a twelve states to overturn the instrumentality successful the courts.”

Becerra has supported Bernie Sanders’ strategy for a single-payer—that is, socialist—national program. Pipes says Becerra present has the powerfulness to fto states power to single-payer versions of Obamacare. It hasn’t happened yet. And California’s monolithic involution successful the health-care marketplace already “has led to spiraling costs and declining outcomes for those unfortunate capable to trust connected the authorities for coverage.”

Worse, arsenic shown successful the illustration astatine the opening of this article, Medi-Cal costs are rising astatine 9.4 percent per year. Recent bills signed by Newsom person expanded sum to undocumented immigrants up to property 25.

“As Medi-Cal grows, beneficiaries person a harder clip accessing coverage. Doctors mostly bounds the fig of Medi-Cal patients they spot due to the fact that the program’s reimbursements are truthful low. Expanding the programme further volition summation contention among beneficiaries for an already constricted fig of appointments.”

Pipes urges: “It’s clip for a antithetic approach. Less regulation, freer markets, and greater prime are what it volition instrumentality to unafraid higher-quality attraction astatine little outgo successful California.”

Mending California Medical Care

Reform ideas:

1. Get power of Medi-Cal costs. Return Medi-Cal eligibility to earlier the expansions began successful 2014. Doing truthful would trim contention for scarce appointments and thereby marque it easier for beneficiaries who are ineligible residents to entree care. And it would discourage undocumented radical from flocking to California for escaped wellness care.

2. Cut taxes with the wealth saved from Medi-Cal reform. Doing truthful would pb to less Californians leaving the state, keeping them present arsenic portion of the taxation base. In turn, that would promote much employer-paid backstage security successful the spot of Medi-Cal.

3. Reduce unemployment by cutting jobs-killing taxes and regulations. For 4 decades the state’s unemployment rate, erstwhile beneath the nationalist average, has been good supra the nationalist average. Employed radical usage less nationalist resources, including Medi-Cal. Currently, California’s unemployment complaint is 7.5 percent, good supra the 4.8 percent for the United States.

4. Allow short-term wellness plans. That would mean repealing SB 901. “Short-term plans tin past up to a year, tin beryllium renewed for up to 3 years, and are not taxable to Obamacare’s panoply of rules and regulations.” These plans are important for those successful betwixt jobs, but who don’t privation to motion up for Obamacare.

“One survey recovered that much than 600,000 radical would bargain short-term plans if California lifted its ban. That would trim the state’s uninsured colonisation by 200,000.”

5. Allow doctors and nurses to articulation interstate licensing compacts. “In March 2020, Governor Newsom signed an enforcement bid streamlining aesculapian licensure rules successful effect to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Although not mentioned successful the book, Moorlach sponsored SB 1053 and SB 1054 astatine the opening of COVID-19 successful May 2020. As helium explained it, the bills “would person greatly eased barriers for subject spouses, accrued entree to tele-health successful underserved communities, and reduced costs successful our healthcare system. I americium committed to continuing this combat for mobility and flexibility successful California’s healthcare system.”

Even astatine the tallness of the pandemic, the bills were opposed by the powerful, left-wing California Nurses Association, truthful the Democratic Legislature asphyxiated them.

6. Embrace the Telehealth Revolution. Much of this already has been done. “As portion of its pandemic response, California made it easier for patients to consult with out-of-state physicians implicit Skype, Zoom, oregon FaceTime. … The imaginable benefits for patients are endless.”

Steven Greenhut: Conclusion: A Blueprint for Reform

Book exertion Greenhut closes by noting the overwhelming powerfulness Democrats present wield successful the state, controlling each statewide offices and supermajorities successful some houses of the Legislature. “Progressives present spot California arsenic a spot wherever they tin effort retired their governmental and societal experiments—in the hopes that their visions tin go the exemplary for the nation. That often has meant a absorption connected societal engineering alternatively than, say, proscription engineering. …

“California is apt to stay a Democratic bastion for the remainder of our lives, but that’s nary crushed to springiness up anticipation of gathering a much applicable and reform-minded governmental consensus.”

Which is each the much crushed elaborate betterment proposals are needed. The state’s political, economical and infrastructure systems are buckling nether the value of atrocious policies. Especially erstwhile the existent “surplus” runs out, arsenic it will, those successful bureau volition beryllium seeking solutions that work.

Greenhut writes Republicans tin commencement reviving their prospects “by embracing the types of practical, quality-of-life-improving reforms that are elaborate successful this book. A small equilibrium is successful bid and Lord knows California could payment from immoderate heightened governmental competition, a batch little partisanship, and immoderate caller reasoning astir caller ideas.”

I would extremity this three-part bid of reviews by pointing retired the Democratic Party successful California itself is not arsenic coagulated arsenic it whitethorn seem. The Jerry Brown-Nancy Pelosi-John Burton Old Guard is giving way. Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom are an intermediate group, present focused connected Oval Office ambitions.

That volition permission a younger procreation to cleanable up the messiness near behind. The details of the problems are successful this book. So are the solutions.

Views expressed successful this nonfiction are the opinions of the writer and bash not needfully bespeak the views of The Epoch Times.

John Seiler


John Seiler is simply a seasoned California sentiment writer. He has written editorials for The Orange County Register for astir 30 years. He is simply a U.S. Army seasoned and erstwhile property caput to California State Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs astatine [email protected]

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