How Jerry Brown got us here

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Jerry Roberts, who has long been among the best political reporters in California, has a nice, detailed piece on CalBuzz about Jerry Brown's history and legacy -- and how California got into the mess that the Guv is trying to get us out of. (It's a nice complement to this Chron interview, in which Ol' Jer takes us back to his seminary days and tells us how much he loves austerity: "I took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. I am ready, OK?"

Jesus, Guv -- we all know you're cheap, but "obedience" really isn't part of your personality. And chastity? For real?

But let's get back to austerity. Brown is clearly hanging his governorship on Prop. 30, his tax measure, and is happily warning us all that things will really, really suck if it doesn't pass. Roberts does a good job explaining how Prop. 13 -- which a much-younger Jerry opposed before he supported it -- laid the groundwork for the state's endless budget mess be capping local property taxes and giving the state Legislature control over how much money flows to cities and counties.

The one missing element: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The state budget was never simple, and California schools in particular never recovered from Prop. 13, but Schwarzenegger instantly made things much worse the day he took office in 2003 when he terminated much of the Vehicle License Fee, costing state and local government about $4 billion a year. Schwarzenegger derided the fee as a "car tax," but it's actually a fee that keeps counties from assessing cars as personal property. Either way, that's a huge chunk of money, and while it was popular, it played into the idea that we can have something for nothing -- similar to the Bush tax cuts.

So I guess all we can do is quote Jerry:

There is a lot of magical thinking in Washington and in Sacramento and, maybe, I might even say, Western civilization," he said. "We had it easy and now the moment of truth is upon us. ... We've got to pay for what we want. And if we don't want to pay, then we have to deprive ourselves of that which we would like, and it's very hard to get people to make that choice."

Comments

tax cut meant that we could "get something for nothing".

Rather, we thought that the government's ability to endlessly raise taxes and spend more and more was unsustainable. And that at least part of the solution has to be to cut spending.

And you just cannot get politicians - even Republican politicians - to lower spending. they just won't do it, because spending money is how they think they "achieve" things.

So there is only one alternative. Give them less money. Starving the beast ought to have worked except that the politicians then carried on spending money anyway, thereby increasing the deficit.

That's why supporting tax hikes is so wrong here. It will simply allow politicians to carry on with their pork projects and throwing money at their union friends. We need to create a crisis in order to finally fix this mess, and voting no on Jerry's tax initiative is the way to do it.

And, by the way, even progressives should vote against it, since the "tax the rich" aspect of it is trivial. The major revenue comes from the sales tax hike, and that os almost as regressive as the pre-Arnie car tax rates.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

A very good sumation I have though the same thing but you said it better

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

Sorry, that dog don't hunt. It's pretty clear that there is no way to spur politicians to usher in taxes on the wealthy. So a small increase in the sales tax may be the only way to fix our schools and other vital state services. I don't think progressives are going to balk at this because some reactionary yahoo informs us that it's mostly a sales tax. Our house is on fire, the children burning...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

tried to reduce the deficit and found it could not, because of public sector benefits and entitlements. Trying to balance the budget without addressing the 64,000 pound elephant in the room is futile.

And asking for more and more taxes every year isn't a solution either. So we must vote no on these attempts at extortion and mugging, to force Brown tod eal with the real issue that is bankrupting the state - the bloated public sector and it's gold-plated pensions and healthcare plans

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:13 am

While it did not fall upon the ultra rich as much as a truly progressive tax might, it did not fall on people who don't own cars at all, and people who drive older cars only paid a few dollars per year in VLF.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

If you live out in the burbs or the sticks, it's essential.

It's not essential for a millionaire living in Russian Hill.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:11 am

fee rollback. What was your point again?

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:30 am

We might as well leave Arnie's VLF cut in place if it's that unimportant.

Trying to raise taxes on all fronts while we're in a recession is abject. We should be lowering taxes to stimulate job growth and the economy. As always, California spirals into ineptitude and bankruptcy. I'm not giving them a handout.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:43 am

your arguments, which might be taken as indicative of the relative merit of your position.

Infact, at the risk of seeming like I'm excoriating you, your incompetent use of the term "abject" coupled with bland repetition of the discredited "supply side" economical model and your evident aversion to taxation, suggests that you are either imagining your status among the "overtaxed," or you should more properly consider yourself as numbering among the "overrewarded."

Thank you.*

(*w/apologies to jccourt)

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:29 am

$6 may be a lot if you're dirt poor, while a higher sum may be irrelevant if you're rich. But that's not really the point - a fee isn't a tax. Taxes are progressive but fees should reflect the cost of the service being provided, which is the same for everyone.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:46 am

Jerry is also unclear on "what we don't want to pay for."

We want the services but don't believe govt workers should be paid a premium just because they funded your campaign.

Strawman Arguments for Morons - maybe Jerry could write a book.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

I thought Dems were progressive??

What we "don't want to pay" Jerry is a premium for govt workers because they funded your campaign.

Strawman Arguments for Morons - Jerry's next book?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

everyone is mad as hell about the excessive pay, healthcare and pension benefits that they enjoy - far superior to that of the voters who are being asked to subsidize them.

People are saying "enough is enough". And a regressive sales tax hike that hurts the poorest so that six-figure public sector workers can continue traveling the gravy train is galling and immoral.

Vote this thing down and let Brown show that he can make the tough decisions, starting to down-sizing public-sector entitlements that will bankrupt is down the road.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

^This.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

I agree that government got us into this mess and they should get us out, primarily by spending cuts not raising taxes. I live in SF, work a retail job and am barely getting by. More state taxes (Prop. 30) and another permanent deduction from my paycheck for insurance will just sink me financially.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

In November, your paycheck is under threat from:

1) Higher federal income taxes if Obama wins

2) Higher state sales and income taxes if 30 and 38 win

3) Higher local taxes if SF Prop A wins.

It's an assault on the working person from all levels. The only appropriate response is to vote against all of those, and force bureaucrats to manage with what they've got.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

You'd never know the economy is lousy with the government worker hogs...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

"We've got to pay for what we want. And if we don't want to pay, then we have to deprive ourselves of that which we would like, and it's very hard to get people to make that choice."

We have paid more than what we got for it because in whatever manner the state employees have made a killing in not only their salaries but hit the lotto with their pensions.
Who was responsible for their pension funds?
There are a many state agencies in which an employee contributes 6% of their annual earning & the state contributes in some cases like Golden Gate transit, BART, AC Transit up to 35 to 40% into that employees pension fund(per some CalPERS) data.
Can Jerry answer that or try to fix that.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 17, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

money by voting down these propositions. That will force him tog row a spine and make the touch decisions on entitlements, benefits and pensions.

If public workers want their gold-plated pensions then they should expect that there will be far fewer of them in the future.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 7:52 am

Tim's world

"Roberts does a good job explaining how Prop. 13 -- which a much-younger Jerry opposed before he supported it -- laid the groundwork for the state's endless budget mess be capping local property taxes and giving the state Legislature control over how much money flows to cities and counties."

A little closer to the real world

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_State_Legislature

The California State Legislature currently has a Democratic majority, with the Senate consisting of 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans and the Assembly consisting of 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans. Except for the period from 1995 to 1996, the Assembly has been in Democratic hands since the 1970 election (even while the governor's office has gone back and forth between Republicans and Democrats). The Senate has been in Democratic hands continuously since 1970.

We live in a single part democrat state, these democrats whom Tim loves have different priorities.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

The argument that it is the government's fault -- or the fault of government employees -- doesn't hold water. The truth is, the government sector of the economy shrank during the first three years of the Obama administration. Norquist has nearly realized his dream of shrinking California down to size so that he could drown it in his bathtub. California is among the states cutting the most government jobs. And what have we gotten for all these cuts other than fullfilling Norquist's demented vision? We have a crumbling infrastructure, a failed system of education, and increasing privatization of government functions. California is shifting many of its state responsibilities to the local level, such as sending low-level offenders to county jails. Do you feel safer now? Just think, at one time, we once had a world-class system of education in this state. No more. You get what you pay for, folks.

Posted by Guest 99 on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 3:05 pm
heh

Oddly California has some of the highest taxes in the nation.

The democrats who have controlled the state legislature for decades has other priorities.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

taxes in the nation, as well as the highest property valuations for property tax assessment, not to mention taxes on corporate profits and stock options, and taxing capital gains as if they were income, California STILL cannot live within it's means.

So Brown thinks the solution is even higher taxes? That's like telling a debtor to borrow their way out of debt.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 4:24 pm
yup

The democrats run the state on most every level, and yet have priorities that are such that they can't do the basics, but they can slovenly worship at the feet of every special interest. The Republicans are no better on some levels, such as the prison system.

The real losers are California tax payers and citizens, the greatest University System in the USA is fodder for the California democrats spoils system.

Complaining about prop 13 in 2012 is comical as the democrats spend away on bullshit.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

in comparison to taxes in other states; which of course you won't know if you get your talking points from Rush Limbaugh and Fox "news" commentators.

And we have plenty of reason to complain about the manifestly unfair Prop 13 tax structure, not least of which is post '78 election ruling that the measure would grant and confer in perpetuity the ability to immortal corporations to evade contributing their fair share of the state's property tax receipts.

What's your rationale for PG&E to pay lower property tax rates than Google or average private owners in the state?

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:45 am

That's hardly "moderate" by anyone's standards. And bear in mind that many States that have high income tax have little or no sales tax, and vice versa. So NV, TX, WA and WY have no income tax, while OR and MT have no sales tax.

Prop 13 is a red herring since, although the ad valoren is low, the valuations on which it is based are much higher than other States.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:44 am

Oregon has 8.6% *AVERAGE* income tax, while California's *AVERAGE* income tax is less than that in about *HALF* of all states. Oregon does not have a sales tax, but it has *EXTREMELY* high taxes on liquor and wine.

(Google "tax rates by state" and "excise taxes by state" for citation, SFBG spam filter won't allow me to post the links.)

No doubt you think that using Latin words such as "ad valorem" in regard to Prop 13 makes your positions *seem* more reputable and true, but it isn't the least bit honest to claim that because Californian's for the most part own bigger more valuable parcels -- that they are in fact richer than average Americans -- that their taxe rates are really higher, when they are IN FACT nothing of the sort.

Prop 13 was a mistake, some aspects of it (as implemented) were *ALWAYS* unsupportably regressive and unfair, and those who toss out a bunch of chaff to distract from those facts are seemingly not honest or nice people.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 10:33 am

with an easy 70% support - more even than voted for Lee or want Ross gone ;-)

If you think CA taxes are low, then it's probably because you don't pay much tax. But 10% income tax on top of, say, 35% federal and social security as well means youre being taxed at 50%

That's almost Scandinavian.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

Please regale us with tales of the Laffer Curve next!

Posted by marcos on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

Just as "progressive" economic policies area recipe for disaster.

No Laffer advocate can tell us what the golden ratio of taxes Vs business advocacy is, while no "progressives" can do it either. Progressives are advocating for what Laffer advocates for, it's the same soft Pseudo science.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

Look, I want a robust public sector the likes of which set the stage for the economic prosperity that California has enjoyed since the 1950s.

But I am loathe to raise taxes to give to a regime that has demonstrated that it will just turn those resources over to the 1% to be used against us.

Cut out the corruption and spend the money serving the public instead of political networks and we'll check again to see if there is any need for more money.

As far as capitalism goes, I'm on the Keynesian side, job guarantee, etc. But I am also content to watch the selfish capitalists ruin it for all capitalists. Yeah, it is going to be painful, but it is already getting more and more painful.

If there is going to be pain, let's get it over with.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

The various levels of government raise taxes and then find some way to mitigate the increase. Any raise in taxes on oil will result in a tax break for oil depletion. Any raise in taxes on drug companies will result in a deal on foreign exports and international laws for drug companies. That all works across the board and every level.

Progressives and Laffer types are not trustworthy on the subject in the least. Raise taxes on the tourist industry in SF, it just results in higher wages for SEIU flunkies.

When I worked in an SEIU industry I went to 1390 Market for a meeting and was informed about how the city just got some huge windfall and that SEIU flunkies were entitled to some of it.

It's comical that the left whines about the state of things when they have been setting the budget priorities for decades. They want to toss the borders open and make Ca the welfare office for the rest of the world and then whine about how shitty things are?

Posted by matlock on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

Sacramento Democrats are hardly "the left."

The deals are cut between corporate power and the professional liberal activists, labor and the nonprofits, to freeze out the majority of the population from public policy considerations.

Yes, government probably needs more money even were the costs of corruption to be factored out. But the fact that the voters see corruption dominating governing considerations is standing in the way.

Thus, the Democrats for all of their caterwauling about "the most vulnerable" are content to keep the corruption train moving so long as they get the cut even if it means the demise of "the most vulnerable."

Better "the most vulnerable" meet their demise than the professional liberals become "the most vulnerable" themselves.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:40 am

requests. The other is the anger over the bloated pay and benefits structure for public sector workers. Voters won't pay more tax to subsidize better pensions than they themselves get.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:51 am

The benefit package of public sector workers is not so much bloated as the benefit packages, if they're lucky enough to have them, of unorganized workers has atrophied to the point of vanishing.

Labor selfishly looked out for its own and by failing to have the backs of American workers, slit its own throat.

I don't think that labor or unorganized workers want an outcome where everyone has crappy "fringe benefits" when they should be neither fringe nor benefits but guaranteed essentials.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 10:06 am

There is really no reason why your employer should pay for your healthcare. It's a flawed system.

I'd prefer to see all benefits banished, and a higher salary instead. People can then pay for the benefits they want.

But the cost of this is killing us, and voters don't feel good about paying more taxes to help those who already have much better benefits than they have.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

Health care, retirement and other "benefits" are essential. The economy is relieving itself of having to cover these costs and externalizing them onto individuals with no commensurate increase in compensation.

"We" can afford to cover health and retirement costs for public workers and benefits for private sector workers. The problem is that the democracy has been purchased by those who have other designs and are working their will successfully to achieve those ends.

But "we" can afford this.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

So, basically what I'm saying is your statement that any "raise in taxes on oil will result in a tax break for oil depletion" is nonsensical, and perhaps intentionally distractionary.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:54 am

I don't suppose you'd ever make that connection

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

Your implication (reductio ad absurdum being used here) is that *no* taxes can ever be levied on *anything* without greivously depressing the ecomonic activity to which they applied.

The extraction fee is minor and only serves to abate the free ride that the oil companies have been enjoying in California.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

CA should have an oil extraction tax - Alaska has one and it ensures mineral resources benefit all the citizenry. It's shameful we don't have one in this state.

Posted by Troll II on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

maybe, otherwise it will be pissed away.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

"The various levels of government raise taxes and then find some way to mitigate the increase. Any raise in taxes on oil will result in a tax break for oil depletion."

http://money.cnn.com/2011/04/26/news/economy/oil_tax_breaks_obama/index.htm

Posted by matlock on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

That's right, they're hoarding the money instead of infusing it into the economy. This is money that could be used to create jobs, bolster education and health care, etc. And you're raving about a shrinking public sector? Wake up!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia4QwztEjxg

Posted by 99 on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

AC Transit AtU employees do not have calpers. We contribute 6% of our income to our pensions.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 11:31 am

Jerry Roberts' piece on Jerry Brown originally ran in California magazine. To view it online go to: californiamag@alumni.berkeley.edu

Posted by Guest California editor on Oct. 02, 2012 @ 3:12 pm