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Legislature marks 24th year of breaking state law

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POSTED June 14, 2010 2:25 a.m.
Andrew Blankenship turns 24 this week.

He works building ads and paginating the Manteca Bulletin.

Andrew has been working since he was 18 following his graduation from Stagg High. He recalls being a bit shocked at his first check in terms of how much Sacramento and Uncle Sam took.

Another milestone is also being reached this week.

On Tuesday, it marks 24 years since the last time the California Legislature bothered to meet the state constitutional mandate that they have a proposed budget approved and sent to the governor.

There has never been a time in Andrew’s 24 years including eight years as a full-scale taxpayer - that the California Legislature has followed the law and done its job.

A lot has happened since 1986 when gas was 89 cents a gallon, the Bangles came out with “Walk like an Egyptian”, George Deukmejian was governor while Willie Brown was speaker of the Assembly, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the year at 1,895 points. The one thing that hasn’t happened is our elected state politicians following the law and meeting a budget deadline.

Yes, the law. It is time that the legislature stops treating the California Constitution as an advisory document. Almost every transgression committed in the name of politics involving the state constitution centers around how they manage the people’s money. The continued pilfering of local tax revenues, as an example, happens because legislators and governors collectively chose to ignore constitutional amendments passed by the people that they keep their hands off it. They’re not inadvertent violations. They are deliberate and blatant just like going 24 years without submitting a balanced budget plan to the governor by June 15 as required in the constitution.

What do you think would happen to Andrew - or any of us - if he failed to pay the state their due on April 15? He’d be penalized financially. When Sacramento doesn’t keep their end of the bargain Andrew and the rest of us still end up getting penalized. It isn’t right.

The politicians are operating with impunity hiding behind their ideology as justification not to do what is their first and foremost duty - delivering a balanced spending plan on time.

Yes, it is true, they are charged with public safety and health. But none of that is possible if the state can’t pay for it.

We all pay heavily for running afoul of state laws in the workplace and in our personal conduct. Forget to make a payment deadline to keep the state supplied with money and you get slapped with a penalty and interest. Do it long enough and you might just get criminal charges filed against you.

Sacramento today has a $19 billion deficit. There is only two ways to make it go away. One is to raise taxes and the other is to cut spending.

One should not trust them to do a combination thereof. Remember, a politician’s idea of cuts is not increasing a program to keep pace with inflation or some artificial financial support they established in legislation. All of the cuts that were supposed to materialize last year resulted in just over 1,600 less state workers. Los Angeles lost that many city workers on its own and that was with the state stealing money from LA to supposedly get rid of last year’s $21 billion deficit in Sacramento.

So why not just tax ourselves out of this mess? Assuming that there are 22 million Californians working - and that is a stretch - with $19 billion to generate that amounts to $863 apiece.

I doubt people like Andrew have another $863 to send to Sacramento just so our elected leaders don’t have to do their jobs and rethink how government services are delivered so we can reduce the cost of government.

Wait, you say, what about making business take all of the hits? Yeah, right. Who do you think ultimately pays business taxes? Here’s a hint. They’re people called consumers who buy goods and services that include all sorts of wonderful taxes foisted upon business in the name of saving consumers/private taxpayers pain. Those taxes are simply collapsed into the cost of doing business and passed along in the price of goods and services.

It’s Economics 101. One would think 120 men and women dealing with the seventh largest business in the world - California - would grasp that. They don’t. Instead they believe their own political babble on the campaign trail.

And they wonder why people don’t trust Sacramento.
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