State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg apparently are now advocating the equivalent of political civil war in California.
Both have decided there are two Californias - the haves on the coast and the have nots in the interior. And they are targeting the have nots because the people they elect to represent them in the California Legislature aren’t falling in lock-step with their demands.
Lockyer and Steinberg are advocating the possibility of making state budget cuts deeper to services in the districts represented by Republicans. Most of those districts are in the state’s interior.
The concept of one California is apparently lost on them. Their timing is especially interesting given the big push to try again to pursue another version of the Peripheral Canal through the Delta that could set in motion massive devastation of farmland in the Delta and the San Joaquin Valley as a whole. Perhaps Lockyer and Steinberg have heard of the San Joaquin Valley. It’s been identified repeatedly as the “New Appalachia” in federal poverty studies. It’s also where a lot of the food they eat is growing
Lockyer and Steinberg are doing nothing more than using philosophical differences on the budget to hammer old wedge issues. Talk to interior Northern Californians and they still harbor resentment about the south getting large amounts of water that originates here. Those same people - for the most part - begrudgingly understand that the water system we have couldn’t have been accomplished without the entire state working in unison. Now we have Sacramento politicians’ intent on opening old wounds.
They made their remarks out of the growing belief by many Democrats in Sacramento that Republicans in the legislature are morally bankrupt. The Democrats are definitely in a different league. If they are willing to stick it to the state’s poorest regions as retribution for not getting their way then they are beyond morally bankrupt and heading deep into morally corrupt territory.
There are differences in politics, income, opportunity, and even social values between the coast and the state’s heartland. For the most part we should celebrate our differences and not use them to impose class and regional warfare to tear us apart.
Lockyer did qualify his remarks by saying he wouldn’t favor additional cuts upon the districts of his political enemies that would impact the poor and vulnerable. It’s kind of like saying we’ll burn parents at the stake for their political value hearsay but we won’t hurt their kids.
Besides wouldn’t cutting back things such as CHP funding, road money, and such also impact children and the vulnerable as well as further weakening local communities’ ability to care for their own? You probably lose perspective of that when you wine and dine with Wall Street investor types eager to get their hands on funds controlled by the state treasurer’s office.
If backlash to the positions the two advocate gains any steam, Lockyer and Steinberg will probably say they were just trying to use sarcasm to make a point.
Should that be the case they may very well be misreading the mood of the people they are supposed to represent. No one is in a laughing mood.
What we have before us is a catastrophe that is the making of Lockyer, Steinberg and their ilk on both sides of the aisle in Sacramento.
It took years to get to this point. But the worst thing is when local government agencies and school districts read the writing on the wall and started adjusting to reality two to three years ago, the state was still playing games with the budget in Sacramento.
Sacramento squandered numerous opportunities to avoid what is happening now. If they had started restructuring and making measured cuts and raised fees and such three years ago, they would find themselves in a better place now. Everything compounds and especially fancy budget tricks that simply kicked the day of reckoning down the road.
Lockyer, Steinberg and everyone else in Sacramento - Republican and Democrat - should be proud for what they have accomplished. They are about to bring California to its knees because they apparently view leadership as a proposition where winner takes all.
In Lockyer’s world a representative democracy is one where those in the majority inflict their absolute will - and retribution - on those in the minority.