Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Commentary by Samuel Strait

The fiscal future for California by all indicators is looking rather
bleak.  Spending for the past nearly five years has become akin to that
of a “drunken sailor” with no end it sight.  Governor “empty suit”
Newsom and Sacramento’s one party legislators have taken a wrecking ball
to the State’s financial health in a way not seen ever in the “Golden
State”.   California’s goose has stopped laying the golden egg, as the 
exodus of the 1% that began as a trickle shortly after Newson donned his
royal crown and has now become a flood.  700,000 of mostly the wealthy
of California’s 39.5 million residents have had enough.   While there
are a few fools that continue at their peril to trickle into the State,
most of the entering population appears to have their hands out rather
bringing new wealth.

Unfortunately for the many in the State who cannot easily disengage,
California’s regressive tax policies, the State’s contributions to the
Federal government’s run away inflation, homelessness increases, crime,
a flood of illegal immigration, and hundreds of inept policy decisions
have turned the State from the “land where anything is possible” to a
place to stay far, far, away from, or leave as quickly as possible.  The
bad news coming from Sacramento and local governments continue to
mount.  It is currently estimated that California could see as much as a
42% decline in revenue, led by a 50% decline in personal income tax.
This is a very clear sign of who exactly is leaving the State in droves,
those with wealth.

Yet the regressive tax policy is only one component of the disaster that
is the Newsom government.  In order to retain population in the State
there must have been some kind of effort to allow for a safe and
welcoming standard of living for those inclined to continue residing in
the State’s boundaries. Unfortunately, this has not become the case for
most of those living in the State.  Bad policy abounds in nearly every
sector of the State government which has been tolerated for far too
long. To pick a few, Newsom’s climate policies, fire prevention, crime,
the homeless, water and energy have all failed to produce results. 
Californians are worse off in far too many instances than even a short
five years ago.  Compared to other States, California has increasingly
lost ground in most areas when it comes to standard of living. 
Reduction of revenues to the State’s government is likely to curtail
support for many programs established in the time of surplus revenues
where the State’s reserve fund balance nearly equaled the State’s yearly
budget. Revenues in 2023 have quickly revealed that on the ledger the
surplus is gone and $25 million dollars in red ink have replaced it.

Many point to the decline in stock valuation as a possible source of the
problem, but that does not explain the absence of it in other State
budgets.  No, the problem appears to be a problem uniquely Californian. 
Where other states have actually improved their numbers in many
categories, California’s numbers have edged further downward. 
Apparently, you can’t continue to let criminal offenders be released in
growing numbers, be soft on crime, and prevent cops from doing their
jobs without suffering the consequences of rising crime and cost to the
public.  Similarly, you can’t continue to spend millions on housing and
“free stuff” for the homeless and not expect homeless folks to flock in
from other states.  And what about the waste spent on the train to no
where where costs continue to mount with no visible progress made.  Huge
investments in “green energy”  which have increased costs to the public
in an ever mounting fashion.  Climate change regulation, business
regulation, and societal dysphoria included on the lists of many
Californians as to why they are leaving. All point to a Progressive
State which is failing in the most transparent and spectacular way.

It seems that you just can’t make up a more certain method of derailing
one of the most successful states if you tried.  Yet, the Democrats and
Governor Newsom have managed in just a few short years to lose Federal
representation and along with it massive amounts of Federal dollars due
to its declining population.  While it remains clear that the abundant
level of foolishness exposed in the State’s and many local government
decisions has not penetrated enough of California’s electorate, perhaps
the decline in the State’s revenue will foster a change in that slavish
mentality when the pain continues unabated.  Governments can only behave
recklessly for so long before even the most ignorant tire of being the
butt of what a colossal failure Newsom and the State’s government have
become.

Here locally where local government has existed on a rising level of
grant funded projects, should have been more prepared for the inevitable
when the “free” money lavishly being forked out will be coming to an
end.  No longer will taxpayer funded grants be as easily acquired or
continued once their period has expired.  Grant funding, as it begins to
evaporate, will be much more difficult to flow into County and City
coffers to be spent on the UNNECESSARY rather then what is needed. 
Projects currently being funded by grants will become more and more
difficult to maintain as cost rise due to inflation and the difficulty
of maintenance in our weather hostile environment.   Looks like the
“chickens will have to come home to roost” before any semblance of a
FUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT ARRIVES ON THE SCENE in the domain of State and
local governments.

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