I want to budget like the California State Legislature and Gov. Brown. No more saving money, paying bills and buying things as you can afford them, the silly way I’ve been doing things all my life, but the California Legislature Method — lots of revenue, irresponsible spending, lack of accountability and a big deficit. To decrease the deficit the Method cuts services and increases taxes and then, in a schizophrenic move, adds two multi-billion dollar projects to make sure the deficit grows. Now that’s an innovative budget.
I know a lot of people who live like the Legislature — they make a lot of money, they spend a lot of money and then they realize that they owe a lot of money. The part I like about the Legislature Method is their way of resolving the problem — charge everyone more for doing less; talk them into paying a little extra by threatening to throw children, youth and disabled people under the bus, and then squeeze a lot more money out of them by coming up with expensive projects like high speed rail and the twin tunnels that are “innovative” and “bring California back to greatnesss.”
Let’s see, how would this work in my life? I could charge the people who visit my home for any food or beverages I serve. I would serve only Two Buck Chuck and beans but my guests would be paying for Reserve Chardonnay and Cowboy Caviar; I’d weasel a little extra out of my guests by telling them they are helping the developmentally disabled with their voluntary contributions and then, best of all, while my guests were drunked up on Two Buck Chuck and bloated on pinto beans, I’d talk them into helping me purchase a new car and a house on the basis that someday these purchases could benefit them.
Of course, some guests might decide not to make a return visit and others might protest, but as long as I kept offering Reserve Chardonnay and Cowboy Caviar in my innovative and awe inspiring new home and promising lots of new jobs to keep my new home and fancy car clean and running efficiently, they might stick around and pony up long enough for me to have a really good time.
I might have to enlist the help of a few family members to keep my guests too distracted to ask questions about how their contributions, both voluntary and involuntary, were going to be spent and I’d learn to throw out so many numbers that they would be too bewildered to ask for an accounting sheet. It might take years before they would notice that my new house never got finished and my new car always seemed to be in the shop, so I’d have plenty of time to shop for some really sexy shoes. Lots of shoes.
The best thing about the Legislature Method is lack of accountability and fiscal responsibility. I love the part where I wouldn’t have to get my guests’ approval; I could just go on a spending spree and stick them with the bill the way the Legislature does. By my reckoning Gov. Brown’s current proposal looks like this:
• $16 billion deficit — fiscal responsibility: $16 billion to taxpayers, $0 to State Legislature
• $12.6 billion high speed rail — fiscal responsibility: $4.7 billion to taxpayers, $7.9 to federal and local government (I’m pretty sure local refers to us, as well), $0 to State Legislature
• $23 billion for the Twin Tunnels to bring water from Northern California to Southern California — accountability: $19 billion to water users; $4 billion to taxpayers, $0 to State Legislature
Total fiscal responsibility: $44 billion to taxpayers, $0 to State Legislature.
Fund management: $0 to taxpayers, $44 billion to State Legislature and Governor.
Accountability — $0.
I’m not sure I could ever squeeze more than a couple of thousand dollars from my guests, but then my shoes aren’t as expensive as our state government’s shoes, either.
Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.