California budget ‘example’ needs closer examination

Re: Parker column, Sheridan Press, Mar. 5

Kathleen Parker seems enthralled with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s ability to get that state’s budget balanced and implement (supposedly) restraints on spending. Before the good people of Wyoming consider taking some of Brown’s medicine, perhaps they might want to consider some facts from the once-Golden State as reported by Thomas Del Beccaro in Forbes Magazine.

While Parker seems enamored with Brown’s production of a $6 billion surplus, she neglects the fact that the California public employee retirement fund is said to be underfunded by $329 billion and that medical benefits are said to be $64 billion in the red. By Brown’s own assessment, the medical deficit is expected to grow 59 percent in the next four years.

Consider also that California has the highest income taxes in the country, the highest gas taxes, the most regulations of any state, and the fourth-highest unemployment rate. All that despite California’s having oil reserves of tremendous magnitude.

However, the California fringe environmental lobby has ensured that this huge shale formation will lie untapped and up to $25 billion in state and local taxes and almost three million jobs will not materialize – all due to ideological irrationality by the Democrat Party as presided over by Brown.

Add to the above the fact that four million taxpayers (myself included) and a large number of companies have moved away from California since 1998, most to sanity-friendly states. The total unfunded liability in California (state, county, and municipal) is said to exceed $1 trillion. A paltry $6 billion short-term surplus won’t put a dent in that.

The jury is most certainly still out on whether Brown and his beloved party will in fact be able to stabilize California’s economic and fiscal woes in the long term. Based on my 30 years in California and on the factual record taken in its totality, I would advise folks in conservative states to beware of those recommending approaches to “solving” problems until we see whether or not such problems are indeed solved, or whether they are just being kicked down the road out of political expediency.

 

Charles Cole

Sheridan

 


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