Last week California said goodbye to Arnold Schwarzenegger and welcomed Jerry Brown back to Sacramento. However, the change in leadership didn’t change the state’s fiscal crisis. In fact, our new leadership could make it worse. California already spends more than any other state on prisons, welfare and public sector pensions.
[media-credit id=20109 align=”alignleft” width=”190″][/media-credit]Unfortunately, the citizens of this beautiful state would rather sacrifice their liberty and private property for the false promises of a government-run utopia. Consequently, our state government is out of control. Last week, Governor Brown unveiled his plan to cure the state’s woes. Unsurprisingly, the main ingredients of his new plan are the same as most liberal solutions: individual liberty and private property. Big government supporters claim we, the citizens, must surrender more of something or another (liberty or property) to government officials. Citizens of California should reject Brown and his false dilemma tax increase proposal and any legislative officials who support the foolish notion that government can engineer a fairer society.
During his campaign, Brown repeatedly mentioned he was going to put a tax increase decision up to the citizens. Even though Brown is admirable for sticking to his word, a tax increase during this prolonged recession will only slow recovery. Even though he is proposing modest cuts to welfare programs, eliminating the education department and deep cuts to the UC and CSU systems while extending reduced dependent tax credits and dislocating $10 billion dollars from the market, the problem is that Brown is presenting a fallacious argument by presenting a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when, in fact, additional options exist. For example, have we considered privatizing roads, prisons or education? Has Brown broken the back of public sector unions, ending the destructive collective bargaining he campaigned to have the guts to do? Has the state made permanent changes to welfare and entitlements or repealed unused bonds for the high-speed rail? Brown needs to consider all these options instead of a narrow set of favorable options. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see if he has the guts to confront the union leadership that funded his campaign.
Even though the fiscal future of California seems bleak under Brown, one proposal to reorganize the government is interesting and a step in the right direction. Brown has voiced his desire to reorganize many state services at the local level; part of the tax increase would help broke local governments pick up the cost difference. Local governments can often be more effective distributors of resources than states, since they’re more in touch with local needs and concerns. Local governments are more likely to contract out services through the private sector, increasing efficiency and value.
Even though I have problems with Brown’s new tax plan based on a false dilemma, his plan to reorganize the state government should be heard out, as it can increase efficiency. Now is the time for Governor Brown to keep his word and break the back of the public sector unions, punishing the citizens of this great state.