This seemed very reasonable. Very practical. Very “bi-partisan,” if you will. And indeed Governor Brown has brought about some cuts in government spending, in part by eliminating taxpayer funded mobile telephone and vehicle privileges for government workers (most of us in the private sector don’t get “free” mobile telephones and cars from our employer, but this had apparently become standard operating procedure for many California government employees).
But the pathway to a tax increase has not been so smooth. Allowing California voters the opportunity to vote themselves a tax increase requires the state Assembly and Senate to legislate a special election, and Brown has insisted that the passage of special election legislation must have at least some Republican legislative votes.
Thus far, however, Republican legislators have refused to cooperate. Government employee unions are now becoming even more fierce with their demands that Brown and the legislature just simply “legislate tax increases” without a public vote, but Governor Brown has remained consistent with his pledge that “the people” must decide on tax increases, and that Republican legislators must provide political “buy-in.”
So what do California leaders do when the deficit is exploding and tax hikes are at a stand-still? In Governor Brown’s case, he has committed to spending millions of more non-existent tax dollars on unionized government employees. For example, earlier in April Brown approved a new contract for the California Prison Guard’s union, which will allow guards to accrue unlimited numbers of un-used paid vacation days each year. When a guard retires, the un-used vacation time can now be “cashed-in” at the guard’s highest salary rate- a sweet pay-off from Governor Brown to a labor union that spent nearly $2 million on his campaign last year.
The precise cost to the taxpayer for this political quid-pro-quo is impossible to know right now. But state government estimates suggest that Brown just saddled Californians with an additional $600 million in pension liabilities.
As for California legislators, they’ve been working on bills that would ban the sale of caffeinated beer, raises taxes on “sugary soda drinks,” require all public school children to be taught “Gay History,” and mandate the establishment of an official California “Parks Make Life Better” month. There have even been efforts at a bill that would require the use of a “fitted sheet, instead of a flat sheet, as the bottom sheet on all beds within a California lodging establishment…”
Indeed, the wisdom of America is breaking-out all across the country -except at the White House, the U.S. Senate, and across that vast region known as our 31st state.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.