“California or Bust?” The Ballooning Deficit

California, long known as the “Golden State,” the jewel of the west coast is on the verge of ruin. For more than a hundred years Californians have been waiting for a cataclysmic earthquake dubbed “the Big One” to destroy California, instead it looks like we’ll fall victim to our sagging economy instead. Who woulda thunk it? Here we’ve all been waiting to shake, rattle and roll, so intensely that good old California will break away from the mainland, become an island and cause the Mohave Desert to become beachfront property, and instead our freakin’ economy will sink us first.

Yes our great state, a once proud, productive and economically sound leader in education, technology, agriculture, aerospace  and social reform is on the brink of insolvency. And as if things weren’t bad enough already, the 9.2 billion dollar budget deficit forecast by Governor Brown just a few short months ago that already had most Californians worried, has ballooned and now stands at 16 billion dollars! Without raising taxes and making deeper cuts there is no way possible we’ll get out of this mess.  Batten down the hatches people there’s a hell of a storm on the horizon!

There was once a time in the not so distant past when everyone wanted to come to California, the land of milk and honey. Starting with the Gold Rush back in 1848, people have given up everything they had to come west, their motto, “California or bust.” There was no other option, California with it’s sunshine and great weather was where they longed to be. I say was because it’s not that way any longer. Today there are more people leaving California than coming in, a definite sign of the times that our great state has lost it’s luster and allure.Today the only thing golden about the “Golden State” is the spectacular weather, our beautiful coastline and the fields of golden spring poppies that blanket the state. The rest is just smoke and mirrors. “California or bust” has become “California is busted.”

I know several people who point finger at governor Brown for our current predicament, but that simply isn’t fair, Brown inherited this problem from the previous “governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger. Try as he might Brown doesn’t have a chance of closing the budget gap unless his tax proposal is approved by voters in November. The fate of the state rest solely on that November tax initiative that would increase the state sales tax and raise the tax rate on those earnings above $250,000. If approved it is expected to generate $7 billion in revenue, and spare more cuts in education, a step in the right direction.

If voters reject the tax increases, things will quickly move from bad to worse. We are still recovering from the worst recession since the 30’s and the collapse of the housing market, so a no vote will  fan the flames of the recession and put California in an even deeper hole.  If the initiative fails to pass,  public schools and colleges, as well as public safety, will take a beating and suffer even deeper cuts. Brown said that if the initiative fails to pass the K-12 school year will most likely be shortened by up to three weeks, college tuition fees will increase dramatically and already strapped courts would receive even less funding. In my district the failure of the initiative will result in five furlough days for all employees, in other words a pay cut, that coupled with a shorter school year would be devastating.

Yeah, it don’t look pretty for Californians. As difficult as it may be, we’ve got to try to remain optimistic. They say”the darkest hour is just before the dawn,” well things are looking pretty damn dark, I can only hope the dawning of a new day is not far off for California.

Just a Thought…

JS

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