January 17, 2003

Editorial

The Financial Health of The State is in Jeopardy

Elected politicians once again have failed to address where the real problems lie that undermine the State Budget. The Governor in his recently submitted Budget Plan has trotted out the usual laundry list of where to cut spending, where to raise more money, and how to cover up for the enormous debt accumulated in the past years. Nowhere is there a plan on how to redesign the whole budgetary process. It has been quite evident that letting our elected representatives cobble together a budget is a process doomed to failure. No legitimate enterprise, in the real world, could possibly survive if they allowed everyone from the CEO to the employees, on the plant floor, join in the process of making a budget. No business would survive.

Budget making is a process that requires an expertise that your run-of- the-mill legislator has in short supply. Yet every year, we are treated to the same spectacle where elected representatives, who may be adequate teachers, bakers & candlestick makers but are absolutely ignorant of the budgetary process, determine the spending of billions of dollars. This process has opened the door to skulldrugery, outright frauds, and created a method of accountability wherein no one, from the Governor down to the newest legislator, is responsible for the outcomes of special interests, manipulation. This year the process of crafting the budget is no different than in the past and no one involved in the process can be held accountable for the fraud, deceptions, and outright squandering of public funds.

It appears that our elected officials, within a very short time of moving to Sacramento, get a mindset that the billions of dollars flowing into our state coffers from our taxes is for their personal privy purse to squander where it will best suit his/hers political agenda. The needs of the citizens, the state, and the nation rank far below their personal agrendizement that they receive from siphoning millions, nay, billions of dollars to their special interests. No legislative bill comes through without additions being made to it by powerful key players that add hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, to their favorite constituent or business in their district, regardless of what the needs of the State are. One wonders where the Governor’s ‘blue’ line pen is at.

The treasury of the state is the feeding trough for all the special interests in the state especially the influential, the wealthy, corporations, and powerful constituents that can influence the outcome of elections. Not being educated in economics, especially macroeconomics, the individual legislator thinks very little of squandering a million here or a million there. Eventually the millions add up and you are dealing with real money. The Governor found this out in dealing with the Energy Pros who raided and picked our pockets to the tune of billions.

The only constituency that has little or no influence in determining outcomes of the budget is the poor, the middle class, and the middle upper class of all races, ethnicities, and colors. They have no champions in the state house. Yet, they are heavily Taxed. But, little of the money, they provide the State, comes back to service their needs.

It should be a requirement that an accounting of how much of our taxpayer provided funds are spent on all the Commissions, of the State where in the appointed members are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend one or two meetings a year It appears that many of these Commissions are nothing but fall back positions for politicians who have failed to get reelected or are termed out, or have a friend in Sacramento.

The Legislature (Senators and Assembly Representatives) is costing the taxpayers millions of dollars. Yet they work only 2 or 3 days a week. Their staffs in Sacramento and their home districts add millions more to the budget. To what end? Are they really doing any useful work? Is it really necessary to have a bicameral Legislature? Who oversees the cost of the Senate and Assembly? The loud sucking sound you hear is the millions and millions of dollars that are being squandered in Sacramento by our own Legislators because there is no citizen oversight of spending or of the actual costs to the State. Unfortunately, the foxes are assigned to guard the hen houses where all the golden eggs are laid.

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