Jewish World Review August 14, 2003/ 16 Menachem-Av, 5763
California tax-weary residents say "no mas"
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In search of the ever-elusive free lunch, California government increased spending in the last four-and-a-half years by nearly 40 percent, well above the 21 percent combined increase in state population growth and inflation. Governor Gray Davis, who entered office in 1998 with a $10 billion surplus, just signed a budget designed to reduce a nearly $40 billion deficit. That's right, $40 billion, a deficit larger than the combined deficits of the other 49 states!
More than 1.6 million voters signed petitions forcing, for the first time in the state's history, a governor recall election. Critics cry foul, because the governor "committed no crime." But the California constitution allows a recall election for any reason deemed sufficient by voters who sign petitions. This includes incompetence and failed leadership. Consider:
But, even worse, some Democratic politicians blatantly and cynically wanted the budget crisis to worsen. Why? As mentioned, California law requires a two-thirds legislative majority to hike taxes. While Republican intransigence ultimately produced a budget without an increase in the state's already high sales and income taxes, this frustrated Democratic lawmakers who wanted to close the budget deficit by increasing taxes. At a "budget crisis" strategy session in Sacramento on how to drum up support for a ballot initiative that would let the Legislature increase taxes with just a 55-percent approval vote, 11 California Democratic members of the Assembly inadvertently left their microphone open. The remarks -- transmitted to 500 "squawk box" speakers -- allowed fellow lawmakers, lobbyists and others to hear their meeting.
Hyper-liberal Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) said, "Since this is going to be a crisis, the crisis could be this year. No one's running (for re-election). And maybe you end up better off than you would have, and maybe you don't. But what you do is you show people that you can't get to this without a 55 percent vote." Fellow Democrat Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) said, "If you don't have a budget, it helps Democrats. If you don't have a budget, it helps Democrats on the 55 percent (initiative). The folks that are heading up the anti-recall effort think if you don't have the budget, it helps Democrats in the recall effort." When a staffer burst in to inform the lawmakers about their "hot" mike, Goldberg said, "Oh, (expletive) (expletive)."
The recall already accomplished two big things. First, while the newly passed budget includes borrowing, fanciful assumptions and accounting tricks, it failed to include -- as the governor wanted -- an increase in either the state income tax or the state sales tax. Second, as the recall effort gained steam, the governor backed down from a threatened lawsuit to overturn the two-thirds super-majority required to raise taxes.
Score two for the tax-weary voters. Or, as lawmaker Goldberg
might have put it, "Oh, (expletive), (expletive)!"
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