Shock Therapy for California?

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to slash an additional $1 billion from social programs like child care and CalWORKS after a record-long budget stalemate of 100 days is another example of the fiscal austerity measures that are turning California into a Third World country.

In a statement explaining his recent line-item vetoes, Schwarzenegger said that he was trying to “build a prudent reserve” or rainy day fund.

The purpose of a rainy day fund is to provide cash in lean times or in an emergency.

With unemployment at 12% in California and record rates of poverty nationally, it would seem obvious that now is the time to tap that rainy day fund.

Instead, what Schwarzenegger has done is to siphon off money from the programs and institutions designed to protect us in the worst of times in order to save money for that rainy day fund.

This disturbing development is a preview of what Californians can come to expect, if Schwarzenegger gets his way, and voters are duped into backing yet another of his stale proposals for restricting state revenues on the ballot next year.

Should this happen, the end result would be a steady evisceration of the state’s network of social structures, something that Schwarzenegger has been trying to accomplish over the years by using his line-item veto on funding for child care, special education, and public health programs.

Instead of trying to resurrect an idea that voters soundly rejected in 2009, Schwarzenegger and the legislature should be concentrating on getting big business to pay its fair share by eliminating the billions of dollars of subsidies the state is handing out to multinational corporations.

A recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent Carolyn Lochhead found that Sacramento could produce an annual budget surplus by simply closing loopholes in California’s tax code.

Instead, the Democratic majority has been capitulating to Republican demands to reduce taxes for multinational corporations and big business in exchange for obtaining political agreement on budgets that are transforming California into a Third World country.

As part of the 2010 budget deal, $200 million worth of subsidies were granted to cable TV companies and the timber industry, while corporations evading their income tax obligations were rewarded with reduced penalties.

In 2009, the California Budget Project (CBP) reported that Democratic leaders agreed to permanently reduce the income taxes of multinational corporations operating in California, a move that is costing taxpayers almost $3 billion in revenues over the next five years.

Although $1.2 billion of these corporate tax breaks will be delayed as part of this year’s budget deal, the smartest thing to do would be to permanently repeal those tax giveaways.

This is because similar measures enacted since 1993 to win over Republicans intent on obstructing passage of previous state budgets have already cost California taxpayers at least $12 billion.

And this has been going on for 30 years.

Fortunately, voters this November will have the power to reform California’s dysfunctional budget process.

They can pass Proposition 24 to repeal the $1.2 billion worth of corporate tax giveaways, and they can pass Proposition 25 to change the requirement for passing a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

These common sense reforms will go a long way toward helping California escape from the Third World mediocrity to which it has descended.

WILLIE L. PELOTE, Sr. is an Assistant Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO. AFSCME is the largest public sector union in the country representing 1.4 million members nationwide.

More articles by:
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus