Ruling With Reason, Not Ideology

Mark Laluan

As we await the full details of Governor Jerry Brown’s May Revised Budget, public mood among Californians has made the transition from tepid support to full-blown apathy.

The only individuals who care about the details of what will be in Brown’s “all cuts” budget are those with their proverbial fingers in the proverbial honey pot. The rest of the state could care less about “preserving dedicated funding for penitentiaries,” “educational master plans,” “state worker pension reform” and the ever-growing mass of golden calves to which the politicos point to as being beyond alteration.

Those of us not working at 10th and L Street have grown disillusioned with the inability of state government in paying down the crushing financial burdens that have stymied economic growth for the past decade.

Democrats have remained unable to govern in spite of having a majority in both houses of the State Legislature, control of the Executive and the passage of favorable propositions that have whittled down the ability of the minority to block majority legislation. The ruling majority continues to expand money on pork barrel projects rather than craft a sustainable program to pay down California’s debts.

Republicans have grown complacent during this their time in the political wilderness. Instead of presenting policies that recognize the regrettable dependence of so many sectors of Californians on our social safety net, the only solution Republicans have given to paying down the deficit is to slash the safety net and endanger California’s remaining sources of state revenue by lower taxes.

Such a state of affairs has come about because both Democrats and Republicans have increasingly relied on their polarized political bases to gauge the pulse of the people. These diehard Republicans and Democrats are in many respects more fanatical than their elected representatives or the rest of the state.

Unfortunately, the politicians continue to pander to groups who demand what is irrational in the face of financial realities. Brown especially has let down the hopes of the silent majority of Californians in failing to use his considerable clout to bypass the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum.

We believe—as do a silent majority of Californians—that the only way this state can be restored to full financial health is to raise taxes to pay down the deficit and reduce spending across the board for all state-funded programs.

Both state revenues and expenditures must be brought back into sustainable levels. A bevy of emergency levies on the rich to pay for our welfare state, our prisons and public higher education cannot provide even a temporary respite from our state’s voracious need for more revenues.

Neither can the destruction of the social safety net in an attempt to reduce state expenditures replace the need for increased revenue through taxation. The welfare state does more than support a class of “useless, talentless, irresponsible, blood-sucking bastards” as some would have us believe, cuts to these programs during a time of economic hardship stab sharply at the ability of the rank-and-file of our workforce to survive.

Our political leaders need to move beyond the limitations of ideology and accept the notion that just as individuals and families must live within their means, the government must live within its means.