California Insider Capitol Report February 2024

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California Insider Capitol Report February 2024

The California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on March 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Bill George

Bill George

2/9/2024

Updated: 2/9/2024

Commentary
This is Bill George, your California Insider Capitol reporter, reporting from Sacramento, state capitol of the fifth largest economy in the world.
California state legislators recently returned to work for 2024, spreading fear among those who believe in the old saying, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” The lawmakers were eager to get to work quickly, seeing how they enacted only 890 new laws in 2023.
They love to spend your money, The state spends something like $467.6 billion a year, so much money that small expenditures of a few million dollars are referred to by the capitol crowd as “budget dust.”
But some of the dust blew away, as the legislative analyst announced the state faces a $68 billion deficit. Now as you know, when you are spending more money than you bring in, you have to reduce spending. That’s not how government works. The lawmakers can find money by raising taxes, and a bill to soak the “ultra rich” was introduced and heard in an important committee. It recalls the question Ernest Hemingway asked: “‘How did you go bankrupt?’ ‘Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.’”
But the California Legislature is proud of its reputation of doing grand things, and a budget deficit is not going to hinder them.
For example, CalCare is the name advocates have hung on the effort to provide “single-payer”—read government funded—health care. It’s been introduced and killed before, but the California Nurses Association, which is pushing it, claims, “Californians overwhelmingly support the transition to a single-payer health system.” The price tag? Likely hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Legislature seems to have finally noticed the wave of crime and homelessness that has struck our cities. A bill was recently introduced by the California Assembly Public Safety Committee chair to reconsider Proposition 47 from 2014, which reduced many drug and theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. A ballot initiative to reform the law has also been proposed.
Meanwhile, state officials are attempting to bring remote workers back to their offices to increase on-the-job collaboration and revive downtowns and city centers.
It reminds me of Montesquieu’s quote about the importance of a vibrant business community:
“Commerce is a cure for the most destructive problems; for it is almost a general rule, that wherever we find agreeable manners, there commerce flourishes; and that wherever there is commerce, there we meet with agreeable manners.”
Bill George

Bill George

Author

Bill George is a former TV news producer and reporter at KCRA and other stations. He is an accomplished author and documentary film producer and has produced eight films for PBS about California history. He formed Nimbus Films & Books in 2011 and produced “The Hidden Wonder of the World” about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit. He wrote the book "Rails, Tales and Trails" as a companion guide to the film. In 2023, Rowman & Littlefield published Bill’s book, “Victory in the Pool,” about the swimmers from a Sacramento swim club who won twenty Olympic Gold medals. He has won the Conference of California Historical Societies Award of Merit for his documentary films, the American Society of Civil Engineers top award for media presentations, and the Sacramento County Historical Society Award of Excellence.

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