I’m writing this letter in response to Ms. Baldwin’s “The State of the State” letter, which appeared in last Friday’s opinion section.

Ms. Baldwin is apparently unhappy with our governor’s running of the state, accusing the governor of simply spouting rhetoric instead of really addressing the issues. I would accuse Ms. Baldwin of the same rhetoric, falling back on the age-old defense that our state is balancing the budget “on the backs of the poor, elderly, disabled and college students.” Ms. Baldwin is shocked that we might not raise taxes, and she suggests that we tax our wealthier citizens more heavily.

Let us examine these opinions. To begin with, the suggestion that our budget will be balanced on the
backs of the poor is simply ludicrous. The vast majority of tax revenue comes from businesses and wealthy individuals, to the tune of over 80 percent. My stepfather has been fortunate enough to build a
successful law firm, which not only pays its own taxes, but in addition to that my stepfather pays a whopping 50 percent of his income in taxes. For every dollar he earns, a far larger percentage goes to the government in taxes than people in lower income brackets pay.

Our state is facing a very serious budget crisis, and we don’t have many options to deal with it.

Raise taxes? California already has the highest taxes in the nation.

Borrow money? We’ve already ruined our state’s credit by borrowing; we can’t continue borrowing ourselves into bankruptcy.

Cut spending? Difficult to do, since much of our spending is written into our state’s constitution and can’t be changed without a two-thirds majority vote of the state legislature. Beyond that, any program the governor cuts funding in will enrage people who like that program.

We all like social programs; they do good things. The simple fact is that we don’t have enough money to support all of the programs that our state runs. Our state government instituted a vast array of programs during the late ’90s, when tax revenues were high due to the tech industry boom. Advisers told the government not to start long-term programs with this money because it wouldn’t last, but the government didn’t listen. Now we’re stuck with a whole bunch of wonderful programs that all help people, but we just can’t afford them all.

So, should we raise taxes? The problem with that is that California is already the least desirable state in the country in which to do business. We need to draw businesses in to encourage economic growth, not drive them away with even higher taxes. The answer to our state’s budget problems is not raising taxes, it’s not borrowing money and it’s not cutting spending. None of these things will rescue us. The solution is economic growth by encouraging business growth, which then leads to higher tax revenues for the state. In the meantime, we will need to cut some spending and borrow some money to keep the state running until this growth can happen. It took years of financial mismanagement to get our state into its current crisis, and it will take years to get out. While this doesn’t make for good politics, because a year from now we’re all going to look at the state and things won’t magically be all better, it’s the only reasonable way to solve our fiscal crisis.

Matt McComb is a senior philosophy major.