What About That Pesky Public’s-Right-to-Know Thing?
The Democratic leaders of the Legislature claim there will votes within days on the floors of the California State Assembly and Senate on a spending package that is supposed to close a $42 billion chasm between state revenues and spending commitments.
The proposal contains well more than $10 billion in tax increases and, potentially upwards of $20 billion in spending reductions that affect homecare workers, the developmentally disabled, welfare recipients, school children and the state’s poorest aged, blind and disabled population. Among others.
There have been no public hearings on this proposal.
There has been no public input whatsoever.
Contrary to the apparent view of the governor and legislative “leadership,” the ideas of the public might actually improve the product. And even if those ideas don’t improve it, there ought to be a public discussion about the efficacy of the proposal before its voted on and approved.
There is a reason lawmakers and the governor are called public officials, not private citizens.
A chorus of voices has been critical of this lack of public scrutiny; a sampling can be found the Los Angeles Times.
The Sacramento Bee reports that Senate Democrats were briefed – behind closed doors – Monday evening. Assembly Democrats received their own private briefing Tuesday.
Isn’t it nice of the Democratic leaders of the Legislature to share with their colleagues what it is they are going to be expected to vote in favor of within the next few days?
What might be nicer is to include the rest of California in this debate.
Let’s see: With gas prices creeping back up, is increasing taxes on a gallon of gasoline by 12 cents a plus or a minus for reviving the economy?
Guess the five publicly elected, public officials that put this budget plan together in a bunch of private meetings think so. Why listen to a divergent view? Doing so, as these publicly elected, public officials like to spin it, would allow their creation to be torn apart by the vicious special interests.
An income tax increase and a boost in vehicle license fees are both deductible on federal taxes – a plus – but with the California’s unemployment rate at an average of 9.3 percent, higher in the Inland Empire and other parts of the state, is the money these tax increases are supposed to yield going to materialize?
Guess the five publicly elected, public officials who put this budget plan together in private meetings think so. Wouldn’t want to sully the proposal by subjecting it to needless scrutiny by, say, an economist. Nah.
Or a 1 percent increase in the sales tax. That would put several counties over 10 percent. The sales tax is the most regressive tax out there. A family of four squeaking by on $40,000 a year pays the same rate as Bill Gates.
An increased sales tax is not tax deductible. Perhaps it should be expanded to cover entertainment like sporting events and movies and so on. With the expansion of the taxable base, perhaps the rate could be lowered rather than raised by 1 percent and still bring in more revenue.
No doubt the five publicly elected, public officials who put this budget plan together in private meetings gave that notion careful consideration and rejected it as profoundly lame.
Shouldn’t there be some public discussion of whether these tax increases should be permanent rather than temporary?
The tax increases go away after five years if voters approve a ballot measure aimed at softening the state feast-and-famine revenue swings. If voters reject he ballot measure the taxes go away after two years and California goes back in the double-digit billion-dollar tank.
Who knew the five publicly elected, public officials who put this budget plan together in a bunch of private meetings could be so subtle?
If the tax increases are temporary, why isn’t the so-called spending cap contained in the ballot measure also temporary?
Ask the five publicly elected, public officials who put this proposal together in a bunch of private meetings.
Each year, less and less sunshine has shown on creation of the state budget, a $140 billion spending package that is the most important annual public policy creation of the Legislature and the governor.
Budgets were once stitched together in special six-member, two-house conference committees in which testimony was taken and proposals publicly weighed.
As less and less public participation has been allowed, the state’s fiscal problems have worsened.
Ask the five publicly elected, public officials who put this budget plan together in a bunch of private meetings if they considered that fact.
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