Why 1 Green voted
By Jan Arnold
My general approach is "tax and spend." Tax those with more money
than others, and spend what we should to provide for health, education, welfare,
The package the Duopoly proposed was really terrible from the
point of view of further cutting spending in areas where the spending has already
for years, failing to tax those who have plenty of money, and failing to start
spending for future-focused environmental and energy needs.
A very useful source for ongoing analysis of the many issues is the California
Budget Project. The gap between the business-as-usual expenditures
and the business-as-usual revenue has been growing. (Currently the budget gap
in California is the largest as a percentage of the General Fund of any state
in the US.)
In recent years various one-time accounting tricks, pieces of luck, borrowing,
deferring necessary work, and other such gimmicks have been used to stumble
from one near-calamity to another.This failure of our elected leaders to tell
the truth and deal with the real problems has been pointed out by many commentators.
Proposition 1A proposed a spending cap. This has been proposed and voted down
in the past. If a spending cap had been enacted in 1995-96, we would have had
to cut about $40 billion in spending in 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09.
The official ballot summary said 1A "strictly limits state spending and
mandates a bigger rainy day fund -- forcing politicians to save more in good
years to prevent tax increases and cuts to schools, public safety and other
vital services in bad years."
This statement gave the misleading impression that state revenue and state
spending have been just fine except for this current crisis this year, and
all we have to do is return to the good old days (of the dot-com bubble, the
stock market bubble, or the housing bubble, all of which temporarily raised
state tax revenues.
But there were many problems with the business-as-usual expenditures even
before the current round of cuts. I'll start with the topic that is most valued
by the average voter, K-14 education.
Voters approved Prop 98 in 1988 to assure the proportion of funds spent on
the schools (40percent of the General Fund) stays at the same inadequate level
it was then, rather than continuing to lose not only by comparison with what
would be needed for a good school system, but in comparison to other budget
items. Prop 1B proposes changes to Prop 98. (That's why Greens opposed 1B).
major part of the budget is welfare, including aid to the disabled, blind,
and aged low-income people of California. The Federal SSI program has
a built-in cost-of-living adjustment annually, as does Social Security. Many
states, including California, supplement the Federal SSI grant with a "state
By failing to increase the SSP (that is, passing along the Federal increase
but freezing the SSP), or even by reducing it so that the check received by
the beneficiary does not go up (the reduction "swallows" the Federal
increase), the earning power of this safety-net program decreases over time.
Using June 1990 as 100, the purchasing power of SSI/SSP in California has
fallen to about 80, and the current proposals would reduce it still further.
It bears repeating that all of this reduction is due to California's cuts over
the years, as the Federal share has continued to rise. (source; CPB)
Aid to low-income families with children, now called Cal-Works, has declined
in that same period to about 70 percent of its value in 1990, and the proposed
cuts now will reduce that to 50 percent. (source: CPB)
Because the 1996 "welfare reform" law limits the time adults can
remain on welfare, currently almost 80 percent of the people on Cal-Works are
children. Another large item in the budget is health care. MediCal is the Federal/State
program providing some health care for some, but not all low-income Californians.
of December 2007, California spent $5695 per recipient on each MediCal enrollee,
less than Mississippi, less than Georgia, less than Alabama, far
less than the national average of $7534, and, although this is hard to believe,
less than ANY OTHER STATE.
About ten states spent more than $10,000 per enrollee. (Source; CPB)
Then there are the prisons, currently overcrowded to the point where even
the courts are demanding a reduction in the number of incarcerated people.
We support reducing the prison budget and releasing enough of the currently
imprisoned to relieve the overcrowding. (Of course we also insist on state
funding for community support for the people released.)
Corrections (and rehabilitation) spending has grown at nearly four times the
rate of General Fund spending as a whole since 1980-81. General fund spending
is up by 381 percent and corrections and rehabilitation spending is up by 1491
percent (source; CPB) This cruel and disgraceful trend in California's history
should be reversed.
So, what should the Green Party recommend regarding the "spending" part
of the budget?(Our Platform has many excellent suggestions.) And where should
the tax revenue come from to pay for all that?
Republican rhetoric about "everyone having to sacrifice" suggests
that those who already are unable to afford adequate food, shelter, health
care, and education should give up still more, such as dental care, so that
millionaires and multi-millionaires don't have to pay more, although the rich
can pay more with no actual deprivation resulting.
As (the late) Peter Camejo
pointed out during his campaigns for Governor (2002, 2003, 2006), the lowest-income
households pay the largest share of their income
in state and local taxes.
"Corporate income taxes have declined over time as a share of General
Fund revenues and as a share of corporate profits.
If corporations had paid the same share of their profits in corporate taxes
in 2006 as they did in 1981, corporate tax collections would have been $8.4
The yield of the state's sales tax has declined over time, reflecting the
shift in economic activity from goods to services and the rise of Internet
and mail-order sales that escape taxation.
"If taxable purchases accounted for the same share of personal income
in 2007-08 as they did in 1966-67, the state would have collected an additional
$16.4 billion in sales tax revenue." (Source; CPB.)
While there are some states which require a "supermajority" (that
is, more than a simple majority) to pass their budget, and some states that
require a supermajority to raise any state taxes, California is the only state
to require both. That situation allows the most parsimonious anti-tax legislators
(that is, the Republicans) to dictate terms although they are in the minority
in the Legislature.
Despite rhetoric about how everyone will have to sacrifice, everyone is not
equally able to pay higher taxes while still being able to meet their basic
During the period 1995 to 2006, the taxpayers in the top 15 percent of
the state's income distribution have had their income double, while the bottom
four-fifths saw their income increase between 8.55 and 10.8 percent.
The wealthiest 1 percent could easily afford to pay higher taxes while the
vast majority would suffer far more hardship if they had to do so.
Measures 1B, 1C, 1D, and 1E are orders by those who think they are our leaders
(the legislature) to drop our silly and childish opinions about what the holes
are in the budget.
Therefore I recommended voting NO on those Propositions (on May 19).