An outbreak of fiscal sanity in California?

posted at 12:10 pm on December 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Is there hope yet for the Golden State?  While Governor Jerry Brown attempts to push through a tax increase that will make the state’s income tax even more progressive — and therefore more vulnerable to economic fluctuations — the state’s voters seem inclined to put the brakes on a high-speed boondoggle whose costs have tripled before ground has even been broken (via JWF):

Four weeks after the news that the cost of California’s high-speed rail project has tripled since voters approved it, the struggling project is taking another hit: waning public support.

A new Field Poll shows that 64 percent of California voters would like a ballot measure giving them a chance to reconsider their 2008 decision to approve $9 billion in state bonds for the project.

Fifty-nine percent said they would reject the $98.5 billion project if it were put before them again. In 2008, 52.6 percent of voters approved plans for the rail line to connect San Francisco and Sacramento with Los Angeles.

That’s not just Republicans talking, either.  The Contra Costa Times quotes the chair of the state Senate Transportation Committee, Democrat Mark DeSaulnier, as acknowledging that “public patience” with the massive public-works project “is about exhausted. … I think it’s time to fish or cut bait with this project.”  Another Democratic state Senator didn’t go quite as far; Joe Simitian warned that public support may fall so low that “you can’t sustain momentum for it,” but it’s too soon to see if that point has been reached.

Supporters of the project warn that shutting down the project now would mean having to return $3 billion in federal grants — but that’s a rather poor argument for committing to a project whose predicted cost has now risen to $99 billion, and the same projection warns that it could run an additional $19 billion more depending on route options.  The funds would only be applicable to the project anyway, so it wouldn’t help California deal with its serial budget crises, and committing to the project would mean having to still find at least $96 billion from the pockets of California taxpayers.

Besides, the advocates for the rail project — which includes Governor Brown — will have to explain why the project should go ahead when Brown is predicting doom if further tax increases don’t get approved at the current level of spending:

“The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts,” Brown said.

“That is why I am filing today an initiative with the Attorney General’s office that would generate nearly $7 billion in dedicated funding to protect education and public safety,” Brown said. “I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high.”

Brown and fellow Democrats who control the legislature failed to win Republican votes to forward a tax measure to voters earlier this year and approved a state budget on their own that relied on deep spending cuts, some fees and the expectation of a $4 billion revenue surge to close a roughly $10 billion shortfall to balance the state’s budget.

Shouldn’t a state facing such a stark fiscal crisis avoid committing to a massively expensive public-works project that won’t generate revenue for more than a decade, and will require ongoing subsidies even when people do use it?  How does Brown make a case that California can’t survive without big tax increases in a state whose tax system is already overly progressive and burdensome, and at the same time tell voters that spending $99 billion is just what the doctor ordered?

California voters might be achieving fiscal sanity.  Clearly, though, their governing class is not even coming close.

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Too late California…you are toast.

trs on December 7, 2011 at 12:13 PM

It’s only temp. The legislature is considering a ballot vote to “legalize” all the illegals in California.

Oil Can on December 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Que…?

Seven Percent Solution on December 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Nope California is still insane

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/12/03/4096622/initiative-would-give-callifornia.html

Nearly a million undocumented immigrants could live and work openly in California with little or no fear of deportation under an initiative unveiled Friday by a state legislator and others.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, is helping to spearhead the measure, called the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act.

Supporters say the initiative could generate up to $325 million in new tax revenue from undocumented workers.

William Amos on December 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Reality has a way of coming up and biting you in the a&*.

Welcome back to rational, albeit temporary, thought.

WisRich on December 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

No hope. I live here. There’s a quixotic blindness to reality, even from the pubs. Us folks who live in the backwaters just watch the big city elites fritter away their time on meaningless or harmful regulatory mandates.

chinalake on December 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Maybe they could just hitch buses together and pretend they’re trains…like they pretend that loans are revenue.

RBMN on December 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM

On another note…for some reason Houston was announced to receive $900 mil in Fed funds for the Danger Train expansion. Not sure the Comical has reported on it yet. The initial line destroyed almost every business on its Main Street path. And that part of Main St. went from 3-4 lanes each way to one lane each way.

Main St. = Minimal St. now.

DanMan on December 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM

I hope liberals get vaccinated then…wouldn’t wanna catch “fiscal sanity”

I’ll let someone else clean this up with a Bachmann joke…

dernst2 on December 7, 2011 at 12:21 PM

OT: Wapo gives dear leader 3 pinnochios for his speech yesterday

Unable to send link at this time

cmsinaz on December 7, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Bah. Give me a call when California does something about its out of control state pensions and the thug unions (and puppet Dem assemblymen) who are eating the state alive.

fiatboomer on December 7, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Aw, those crazy Californians! It’s only plastic! They’ll pay it off with more plastic. Hey! It’s California, dude! Ski at Big Bear or hit the beach at Newport?

cartooner on December 7, 2011 at 12:24 PM

California needs to rewrite their constitution.

ernesto on December 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

I try never to underestimate the ignorance and/or outright lunacy of California voters (well, to be more accurate, the voters from Los Angeles and the Bay Area who, unfortunately, dominate the rest of the state) but even the most ardent California Greenie has to blanch at the cost of this boondoggle.

So Cal Jim on December 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I don’t understand why voters do not catch on to the scam of additional funding for ‘schools’. They use that extra tax money for schools but pull out the exact same ammount from the general funds that was already going to the schools. They then spend that money on whatever scheme they originally wanted the money for that voters would never have supported. The schools end up with the same ammount they started with.

It is a big shell game.

GardenGnome on December 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM

William Amos on December 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Well my entire neighborhood will be happy….

EnochCain on December 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

California is not only a beautiful state, but a very significant contributer to our national heritage on so many different levels. It is heart breaking to see the far left systematically destroy the economy.

trickychicken on December 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM

California Uber Alles

EnglishRogue on December 7, 2011 at 12:32 PM

California voters might be achieving fiscal sanity.

This from the very same people who voted in Governor “Moonbeam?”

DiverBOC on December 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

California needs to rewrite their constitution.

ernesto on December 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Please do expand upon this thought.

lorien1973 on December 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Aw, those crazy Californians! It’s only plastic! They’ll pay it off with more plastic. Hey! It’s California, dude! Ski at Big Bear or hit the beach at Newport?

cartooner on December 7, 2011 at 12:24 PM

We can do both in the same day brah…

Chicost84 on December 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I live in Ca. also and there is no way this will be “killed.Brown is also going to get tax increases on the ballot in the guise of saving the schools for the “Children.” Unbelievably a poll came out that said 59% agree with these new”revenues.”

sandee on December 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Is there hope yet for the Golden State?

Nope. In California, politicians may have a say, public unions may have a say, and Hollywood may have a say, but the people sure don’t.

Stoic Patriot on December 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

An outbreak of fiscal sanity in California?

You’re kidding, right? Being slapped in the face with budget deficits and having your lines of credit and income dry up is not “fiscal sanity” – it’s fantasy meeting reality.

peski on December 7, 2011 at 12:35 PM

It is a big shell game.

GardenGnome on December 7, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Cuz no one disputes them on it. It’s that simple.

lorien1973 on December 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM

At least California will have the means of moving large numbers of refugees from hobo camp to hobo camp, and quickly at that.

Bishop on December 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

California voters might prove themselves to be insane. On one hand they want their 99 billion dollar “electric” train. On the other hand they Might vote to shut down their two nuclear power plants.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/state-nuclear-ballot-item-would-lead-to-blackouts-billions-lost.html

RADIOONE on December 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

It doesn’t matter if the public voted to stop the project. This is California, they will just get a judge to overturn the result.

Blindsummit on December 7, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Tough luck, California. You voted for the waster. Now you need to pay for it.

BillCarson on December 7, 2011 at 12:43 PM

The Contra Costa Times quotes the chair of the state Senate Transportation Committee, Democrat Mark DeSaulnier, as acknowledging that “public patience” with the massive public-works project “is about exhausted. … I think it’s time to fish or cut bait with this project California.”

49 other states agree….

Nethicus on December 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

California needs to rewrite their constitution.

ernesto on December 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Or… we can pay attention to the one we have; http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_3
Note Section 6

Chicost84 on December 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

So instead of a green train to fiscal hell they’ll have to settle for a clogged, eight lane highway with everyone driving SUVs?

NoDonkey on December 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

I’m still trying to understand the Democrat’s fascination with a mode of transportation that hasn’t been on the cutting edge since the 1870′s.

Cindy Munford on December 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

My prediction- they’ll still go for it and the final cost will end up around $200 billion. It may or may not be completed. I’m not that much of an oracle.

NukeRidingCowboy on December 7, 2011 at 12:47 PM

California needs to rewrite their constitution.

ernesto on December 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Please do expand upon this thought.

lorien1973 on December 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Yes, please do. I hope ernesto doesn’t mean in Spanish

ShainS on December 7, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I’m still trying to understand the Democrat’s fascination with a mode of transportation that hasn’t been on the cutting edge since the 1870′s.

Cindy Munford on December 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Their next project is a steam powered car, made by GM of course.

luckedout26 on December 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM

This is a state where a lifeguard can make 200K per year.

esnap on December 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

I’m still trying to understand the Democrat’s fascination with a mode of transportation that hasn’t been on the cutting edge since the 1870′s.

Cindy Munford on December 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Please understand I am not endorsing the Democrats’ methods, but:

SIGH.

fiatboomer on December 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM

The Dems won’t lets this project fail its too much apart of their agenda

TheOarsman on December 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM

It could happen……..Okay I’m back from Dreamville.

rockylwgc on December 7, 2011 at 1:06 PM

It could happen but we have such a long way to go! Maybe time to move.

glh on December 7, 2011 at 1:11 PM

The idiot Californians that keep voting in these reprehensible turds decade after decade… will continue to vote them in.

Only birds of a feather flock together. Unfortunately, the majority of the voting birds in California are $hitbirds.

SD Tom on December 7, 2011 at 1:11 PM

California, eventually all your chickens will come home to roost.
You can’t continue your fiscal irresponsibility and not eventually pay for it.

travlinman on December 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM

California is over. Just like Detroit. Once you go down the road of entitlement philosophy you can never come back.

jaymil on December 7, 2011 at 1:18 PM

From the business relocation coach: 204 Companies that relocated or diverted capital from California (and it’s an incomplete list).

mikhail1973 on December 7, 2011 at 1:19 PM

“The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts,” Brown said.

No Governor Brown, the stark truth is you are so in debt to the unions, you would NEVER cut spending in the area that is bankrupting California—union wages and retirement obligations.

dirtseller on December 7, 2011 at 1:24 PM

WARNING! WARNING!…Save youselves….leave us behind, the socialist monster in California has all but devoured us.

DWoDiego on December 7, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Funny how libs have to learn this lesson again and again. If anyone had predicted this outcome back when the bond issue went up for a vote, they would have said, “You’re an obstructionist who is sold out to Big Oil to keep us all in our carbon-emitting automobiles!”

ROTFLAO

JoseQuinones on December 7, 2011 at 1:36 PM

An outbreak of fiscal sanity in California?

No worries, fiscal sanity in CA is like the flu; 72 hours and you’re back to normal.

gekkobear on December 7, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Alas for my poor state, home to seven generations of my family.

Bob's Kid on December 7, 2011 at 1:52 PM

lol No hope for anyone in this awful state of mine. If this future disaster is anything like the BART program we have here, then we’re screwed. BART has become a cesspool with homeless pissing on the ground, in broad daylight and sleeping in the train cars. Wannabe gang members compromise the majority of the passengers, walking around trying to start fights with anyone who is white. Most people still left in the decent parts of Cali (The suburbs, and rural areas) are TERRIFIED of a mass transit system like this or BART coming to their area because they know what it brings. Unfortunately the Dem Machine will probably have their way and succeed in turning Cali into the bar scene from Star Wars.

1984 in real life on December 7, 2011 at 1:56 PM

I lived in California for over three decades but finally had to give up and leave. I still lived there in July of 2009 and then Governor Schwarzenegger released a statement complaining that while California had 12% of the nations total population, it also paid out 30% of all welfare funds. I’m willing to assume that the disparity in those figures has only been exacerbated by the continued ‘economic difficulties’ the nation has endured since. The state spends, according to the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform site, about $24 Billion per year on social services for illegal aliens alone. I think that, in terms of fiscal sanity, pretty much sums up the economic ‘climate’ in California. They simply can’t afford themselves.

thatsafactjack on December 7, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Not getting my hopes up; my state will always find a way to do the wrong thing, alas.

stuckInOakland on December 7, 2011 at 2:08 PM

So instead of a green train to fiscal hell they’ll have to settle for a clogged, eight lane highway with everyone driving SUVs?

NoDonkey on December 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

The HS rail is meant primarily to be an alternative to airline travel, not so much freeway travel. Congestion on the main north/south routes that the train would compete with (101, 99, I-5) is only bad in urban areas. This is not a local rail project that would take cars off the local roads.

Snidely Whiplash on December 7, 2011 at 2:24 PM

The prosperous and thriving “Golden State” of California I moved to in 1976 is gone forever, replaced by a corrupt, broke, dysfunctional liberal utopia cesspool run by Union thugs and racist special interest groups pandering to the 15 million+ illegals in the state…soon, all that will be left here will be poor. uneducated illegals and union thugs…sad…the people of this state deserve everything they get for voting in these liberal/crony socialist that have and continue to run the state into the ground…

Strike Hornet on December 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM

The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts,” Brown said

No. Other. Choice.

Why is it the public continually swallows this this lame-ass argument hook, line, and sinker?

pain train on December 7, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Three-hundred twenty-five million dollars a year in new taxes, from illegals? Yeah right. Watch lots of them leave California. When you’ve lost even the illegals…

Ward Cleaver on December 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I’m sure they will call Obama and ask him to bail them out and he will just like he did in the $7 trillion he did for the banks that we as tax payers didn’t know about until last week.

tmgrant on December 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM

In 2008, 52.6 percent of voters approved plans for the rail line to connect San Francisco and Sacramento with Los Angeles.

Hmmmm….about the same number of idiots that voted for Hope and Change.

As for Jerry and his perpetual seeking of tax increases; when he ran for office “everything was on the table”. Yeah. So he and the legislature have cut education and social services; and are threatening even more cuts now that they “budget” has fallen apart barely 4 months after passing it.

The politicians will teach Kalifornians who the boss is!

Jerry never mentions the 2004 “California Performance Review”. 2,504 pages of recommendations to cut the state budget by $32 BILLION over the first 5 years (2004 prices). Suggestions such as:

1) consolidate 91 over-lapping agencies
2) eliminate 12,000 state jobs through attrition
3) scrap the 118 advisory boards and commissions that do little but given termed-out/un-reelected politicians a “job” with 6 figure salaries.

Yeah. Everything ‘was on the table’. Right, Jerry?

GarandFan on December 7, 2011 at 2:40 PM

The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts,” Brown said.

No other choice. … except to take on the teachers’ union, the prison guard union, the SEIU, cut back on perks to illegals, deport the illegals in our prisons, reduce onerous regulations on small businesses so that they can expand and hire…

As there are only a few of us who actually pay income taxes here anymore, Brown should have no problem convincing the masses to vote themselves more money from my pocket.

LASue on December 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM

As a 20 year resident of ca., I can assure you that even if the people vote to stop this madness, the state will either ignore their wishes or try to overturn it in court. Just heard recently that a judge here has ruled the state had no right to ignore the will of the voters regarding prop.8; you remember, the bill to NOT permit gay marriage. We’ll see how long it takes till the state finds another way to enforce their will on the voters. Enough to make anyone crazy……no common sense taught in this state.

MONACO1121 on December 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Please understand I am not endorsing the Democrats’ methods, but:

SIGH.

fiatboomer on December 7, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Please keep in mind, that Japan is smaller in size than California, with 3.5 times the population.

SWalker on December 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

For what it is worth I voted against this. What has happened is no surprise, in fact, it was utterly predictable.

Dollayo on December 7, 2011 at 4:24 PM

There is absolutely no evidence that Jerry Brown will never achieve sanity: fiscal or otherwise.

Moonbeam and his Liberal Fantasy Friends in the Legislature have moved themselves out to the far end of a limb. The only question to be settled is will the Legislature cut the limb off…will the branch collapse from its own weight…or will the taxpayers finally cut it off?

Our firm no longer extends credit to any CA state, city, or local government agencies or CA businesses. For reasons of self-preservation, I’m sure that many, many other businesses have similar policies.

CA will lead the way in showing the nation what happens when the supply of “other people’s money” runs out.

landlines on December 7, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Polls don’t mean a damned thing to committed socialists and thieves of the public purse.

rayra on December 7, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Nearly a million undocumented immigrants could live and work openly in California with little or no fear of deportation under an initiative unveiled Friday by a state legislator and others.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, is helping to spearhead the measure, called the California Opportunity and Prosperity Act.

Supporters say the initiative could generate up to $325 million in new tax revenue from undocumented workers.
William Amos on December 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM

First, they’re already there working, second, they have little to fear by possibly becoming deported, so now you’re going to try and tax them? Good luck trying to collect taxes from an illegal alien that has no social security number.

RMCS_USN on December 7, 2011 at 6:28 PM