Jerry Brown has a problem. His state continues to spend billions more than it collects in taxes. Outlays for pensioners are starting to bite into day to day government functions. Unable to get higher taxes through his state's legislature Brown is turning to the voters with proposition 30, asking the voters to raise their own taxes. Proposition 30 is being sold to the public as a way to balance the budget and prevent cuts to schools and public safety.
Brown parades around the state preaching that his citizens must accept the tax "for the children". Already the most tax burdened state in the union according to a Pacific Research Institute study, more taxes just continues the status quo. The revenue generated will not do much to fill this years 16 billion dollar deficit, nor go to schools, or public safety. That money will be used to shore up a broken retirement system that is underfunded by hundreds of billions of dollars.
The other sad truth is that much of the income promised by this new tax will never be collected. With nearly 2,000 upper income Californians leaving the state every week the amount of money garnered from Brown's latest "tax the rich" scheme is sure to be much, much, less than forecast. California already has the worst business climate in the United States which makes raising taxes that much more damning. Businesses are leaving the state and with them taxpaying workers.
Proposition 30 is a smoke screen that will not balance the budget or come close to fixing California's budget problems and what do Californians get for their money? With half of the general revenue required to go toward education by the state constitution, you'd think California students would be doing well in the most populous state in the union. In fact, California typically ranks among the worst as far as academic achievement is concerned. Pulling the data and comparing student outcomes to a state like Florida is enlightening.
4th grade scores for Math & Reading In 2009
Florida - spending per pupil $8,760. Reading ranked 10th, Math ranked 27th,
California - spending per pupil $9,657. Reading ranked 46th, CA ranked 45 in Math,
4th grade scores for Math In 2012
Florida - spending per pupil $8,983. Math ranked 23rd
California - spending per pupil $9,313. Math California ranked 46th.
Californian's spent nearly 1,000 dollars more per student than Florida in 2009, and has some of the best paid public school teachers in the nation. The result; students scored in the bottom ten percent compared to students in the rest of the country. With such poor performance is it any wonder that republicans in the legislature are adamant about blocking tax increases until real reform is implemented?
Special interest groups especially public employee unions have so corrupted the political system that changes through the legislative process are nearly impossible. California is in desperate need of fundamental structural reform of it's pension system and education. Brown had a chance for real reform that could help his state survive the coming financial calamity by taking his case directly to the people. Instead he doubled down and decided more of the same will do. Subsidizing failure is what Brown is proposing in prop 30, and without real change, California is well on the way to fiscal collapse.
Aaron Gee blogs at foundingideals.com