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