California is but a castle made of sand, and its past governors were the nearsighted builders. They have served in a perpetual race against the imminent tides of energy, nature and economy. However, instead of strengthening the foundation, they reflect the naïve optimism of their constituents, excitedly gathering sand to build additions here and there. Meanwhile, the infrastructure washes away.
[media-credit id=20109 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Of the candidates in the 2010 gubernatorial election, only one has emerged as a forward thinker with an infrastructural plan for our castle by the sea. That man is former California Governor Jerry Brown. “Governor Moonbeam,” as he was called during his 1975-1983 term, was once criticized for his pie-in the-sky ideas for California to launch its own satellite, his early opposition to the Vietnam War, his opposition to the death penalty and his successful crusade to repeal tax breaks for the oil industry. Time has proved his wisdom. The issues are not all that different from those in 1975 (except maybe for the satellite bit). Brown’s progressive social and environmental stances are equally relevant today and, somehow, still groundbreaking. It’s ironic that the most forward-looking gubernatorial candidate should be a man identified with the past, but it was during Brown’s first tenure as Governor that the Golden State experienced its Golden Years, leading the world in environmental awareness and economic success.
While “Moonbeam” is light years ahead on the environment and social issues, he remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to tax reform. His very first campaign stance was “no new taxes, unless you the people vote for them.” Tax reform is Brown’s weakest issue and the tax coda is the weakest component of our castle. It needs repair, not preservation. Fifty five percent of California’s tax revenues come from personal income. This excessive reliance on income tax creates an imbalance; almost all of the castle’s weight is supported by one revenue source. The result is the dangerous boom-bust cycles that we saw with Davis and Schwarzenegger. Brown must reform the tax coda by redistributing the financial burden of state programs evenly to ensure long-term stability for our castle by the sea.