In case you missed it: Memo to politicians - Don't ignore California problems

Friday, January 27, 2017

This is an excellent column and worth a read. It directly reflects my reaction to Governor Brown’s State of the State earlier this week and my concern for the direction legislative leadership is taking.

By Dan Walters
Sacramento Bee

By devoting most of Tuesday’s State of the State address to denouncing Donald Trump and his policies, Gov. Jerry Brown fed rhetorical red meat to fellow Democrats.


Something else happened Wednesday to round out the escalating Washington-Sacramento conflict. State Controller Betty Yee declared that the state’s unfunded liability – its debt – for retiree health care had jumped to $77 billion.


California has many positive attributes, including a very diverse population and a powerful entrepreneurial spirit, but as Yee’s announcement implies, it also has many deep-seated, long-festering problems.

It has the nation’s highest level of poverty, caused by a shortage of housing and its sky-high costs. A third of Californians are poor enough to qualify for Medi-Cal.

It has the nation’s worst traffic congestion and second-worst pavement conditions.

It has a very shaky water supply, and its K-12 schools rank near the bottom in academic achievement.

It has ever-growing debts for public employee pensions and retiree health care. Its state budget is tenuously “balanced,” but only if one ignores those debts, and is dangerously dependent on highly volatile taxes from a few wealthy Californians.

Brown, his predecessors and legislators have occasionally swiped at these issues, but not fully addressed them. Brown has been notably willing to settle for half-a-loaf “solutions” as he seeks a second governorship legacy.

Their Trump obsession not only entices California’s politicians to overstate its virtues and minimize its shortcomings – their version of “alternative facts,” perhaps? – but diverts the political energy they demand.


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