“I halted a fulfilling private sector career path to enter public service. I now have to explain to my wife and daughter that we won’t be able to pay the bills because a politician chose to grandstand at our expense.” — Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D- Los Angeles, lamenting about forfeiting his pay for the legislature’s failure to adopt a balanced budget on time
What a shame.
Lawmakers are losing over $400 a day for not doing their job.
State Controller John Chiang this week implemented the will of the people in the form of Proposition 25. That means until they adopt a balanced budget, they will lose all pay and expenses.
It is better than that. They are forfeiting the pay and will never ever get it back. So far, each lawmaker has taken a hit of at least $2,400 with $261 of that in salary and $142 on per diem for travel and living expenses.
Normally one shouldn’t gloat over another’s financial calamity. Given the pain and suffering the legislature has inflicted on the general well being of California taxpayers over the past 20 years of kowtowing to special interest groups across the board from big business to unions to environmental groups, it seems appropriate to make an exception.
The Democrats like to blame the Republicans for not increasing taxes. The Republicans like to blame the Democrats for not cutting costs to make sure the state lives within its means.
They are both to blame.
First, the Democrats have never met a state program they’d like to cut back. This state has agencies that have overlapping functions. Nor is California at the forefront - at least on the state level - of rethinking how government services are delivered in order to reduce the size of the bureaucracy.
Look around. Government is shrinking everywhere whether it is cities, counties, or school districts. The money just isn’t there. San Jose, as an example, shed 800 municipal workers last year and now is faced with slashing another 500 after major compensation concessions from employee groups.
The Republicans are equally guilty for the mess but for another reason. They have resisted true tax reform by always crying tax increase.
Proposition 13 put in place a big loophole that corporations regularly use to avoid ever seeing an increase in their taxes based on a major increase of the value when property is sold as what happens with single family homes. But instead of eliminating the big breaks for corporations every time someone wants to reform the injustice they scream that the intent is to tamper with property tax relief that Proposition 13 brought to homeowners. Of course, no politician in their right mind is going to incur the wrath of homeowners by monkeying with Proposition 13 if someone is crying that they are going to gut it when in essence it is to make corporations play by the same rules as homeowners.
The Republicans’ aversion to any tax to run government that is reasonable was proven this month when they didn’t support the bill to collect sales tax on online purchases of items sold to Californians.
The measure simply modernizes an existing tax that applies to retail transactions. Online retail sales didn’t exist when the taxing law was put in place. Why should someone buying products online not pay their fair share for services in California as opposed to someone who buys the same product at a brick and mortar store? Republicans blinded by the idea that any change in taxes is paramount to a tax increase simply dig in their heels.
And lawmakers - so caught up in their world of doublespeak where taxes are referred to as “revenue enhancement” and program cuts are proclaimed when the rate of increase year-to-year is simply pared back - actually believe the budget they adopted didn’t employ accounting tricks like previous budgets.
So now that their pay has been withheld lawmakers are crying foul saying that they are being wronged.
Now they know what it feels like.