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What conservatives have done to government in California
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5003

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:34 pm    Post subject: What conservatives have done to government in California Reply with quote

I graduated from high school in Southern California in 1967. I had a terrific teacher for American government, who was fond of saying that each society gets the government it deserves. I’m often fairly astonished at how little some of the posters on this forum know about California government—what it spends money on, what benefits come from that spending, and how much the right wing has cut from needed programs over the past 40 years since I graduated from an excellent public school system.

Let’s start with a few facts about what the State spends money on. The current state budget can be found here: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2012-13-EN/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/FullBudgetSummary.pdf Most of the money from the General Fund is spent on four things:

Health and Human Services $27 billion
K-12 Education $38 billion
Higher Education $ 9 billion
Corrections $ 9 billion

No other budget category totals more than $3 billion, out of a total General Fund spending of $96 billion.

EDUCATION

Because I volunteer in public schools teaching reading and math, I am particularly concerned about the health of our education system. Proposition 13, sponsored by Howard Jarvis, has led to a dramatic decline in the amount of money spent on education in California, and has shifted policy control from local governments to the State. It cut local property tax revenues by nearly 60%. The impact on education was dramatic. In 1969, 3.7% of personal income in California went to public education, with nearly 50% of that funding coming from local property taxes. In 2008, under 3.3% of personal income went to public education, and California had fallen to 44th in per pupil spending in the US, and last in the ratio of students to teachers.

Higher education has suffered as well. In 1980 15% of the State’s budget went to higher education, by 2011 that had dropped to 9%, and another $1.5 billion was cut since 2010 due to the Republican’s refusal to increase taxes during the recession. Fees have doubled in the past five years, and California’s successful higher education system has become far less accessible to the poor and the middle class.

When I graduated from high school at went on to the University of California, there was a consensus in California that public investments in higher education resulted in substantially higher income, and tax revenues, over the life of each person educated. Indeed, researchers such as James J. Heckman have found that each dollar invested in education returns at least $1.50 in public revenues, and early childhood education can return $5.00 or more. The constant cuts in education, which was what helped create much of California’s wealth, is akin to slaughtering the goose that laid golden eggs.

PRISONS

Thanks to ill-conceived conservative ideas like the three strikes law, California’s prison population, and spending on prisons, has skyrocketed while education has been slashed. Between 1980 and 2011, the money spent on prisons has increased by 436%, and is now nearly as high as higher education. Ironically, efforts to educate poor children help reduce the prison population, and more than pay for their costs.

Grappling with the issue of crime is neither easy nor without difficult political issues. The increasing punitive approach supported by conservatives resulted in an increase in the prison population from 67,000 in 1987 to 163,000 at its peak in 2006, and now about 120,000. The courts have ordered a reduction in the prison population because overcrowding violates Constitutional standards, and some have estimated that 44% of the prison population is a low risk for re-violating because of their age. However, many of these prisoners committed serious crimes. A number of analyses of criminal behavior have shown that the age of the population is an important factor in the crime rate because the peak for criminal activity occurs during the age group from 14 to 25. In any event, the crime rate has been going down in the United States for more than a decade.

PARKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

I began thinking about this subject when I had a chance to hear Tony Jackson, the new head of the California Department of Parks and Recreation speak. He pointed out that California has had a 50% increase in park acreage, while suffering a 1/3 cut in staffing. Most windsurfers use State and local parks for reaching the water—and get there on publicly funded roads. Many facilities used by windsurfers have been built by funding from the Department of Boating and Waterways—now a part of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Frequently we use facilities with no entrance or parking fees. The budget for the Department is $576 million—but there are over $1.3 billion in unfunded maintenance needs. The Parks budget amounts to $15 per person in California.

INFRASTRUCTURE

There was a time when Republicans supported investment in infrastructure, and recognized that those investments created immense wealth and opportunities for capitalists. Eisenhower is the granddaddy of the Interstate Highway System, which reduced the costs of transportation dramatically and led to huge economic benefits. Construction of the railroad system, funded largely by grants of Federal lands in the mid 19th century, had the same impact. More recently the governments investments in ports and airports and satellites has allowed private investors to benefit from improved technology. Yet funding for infrastructure is no longer favored by the GOP, and our highways and bridges have serious backlogs in maintenance and replacement funding. Republicans prevented funding of additional infrastructure investment when proposed by Obama, prolonging the downturn in construction jobs.

I find it particularly ironic that the Republicans have acceded to the series of quantitative easing measures by the Fed, while blocking measures that would increase private employment and consumption. We've been willing to subsidize the investor class with those measures, while starving the consumers that might have made the economic recovery more robust. While this is regrettable, it is part of a pattern whereby the GOP has abandoned many of the policies of investment that created wealth in this country, and pandered to the social conservatives. It has damaged the economy in California--but has also led to the dramatic decline of the GOP as a reputable brand in the state.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5698

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mac, since we're the same age and we graduated from high schools that were only a few miles apart, I can acknowledge that much of what you're saying about changes in the state of California since 1967 is true, particularly the huge effects of Prop. 13. No doubt, the Republicans have played a big role in screwing things up by refusing to work cooperatively with Democrats in the key areas that you highlighted. However, more recently Republicans have lost enough seats in the state legislature where they, as the minority, can no longer block important legislation. Now, one wonders whether the Democratic majority can begin to reverse the negative trend that was so many years in the making. One can only hope.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13866

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't even have to look at these posts to know how laughable they are. Imagine Moore, Gore, Soros, Striesand, Pelosi, Reid, Clooney, and Marx all rolled into one extreme left burrito whining about "Those Damned Obstructionists" trying to impede California's rush to insanity.

I'm sure saner heads will correct me if my assumption is wrong.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5003

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be funny if it weren't so sad:

Quote:
I don't even have to look at these posts to know how laughable they are.


Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is closed.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5698

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I'm sure saner heads will correct me if my assumption is wrong."


Why waste any time on a twisted person that can't see or acknowledge the majority of posts here?
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1922

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would really be interested to see how the per capita tax rate compares to historical rates. Adjusted for inflation.

I did my own brief research into Colorado education budget after a teacher friend complained about reduced funding. What I found is that a LOT of tax revenue is being spent in other areas including teacher retirement increases... which were not included in the education budget. It seems our aging populations may be having across the board fiscal ramifications.

One would really need to look at the entire budget from a historical perspective to see if the money is being diverted or is actually less. Are there less or more students in the schools as a fraction of the total population? It would seem that education costs should have been higher pushing the baby boomers through the system.

This is just the start of the trend. As population ages, resources will be stretched for traditional government spending...as dollars follow the aging boomers again.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5698

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit that being a CPA or statistician isn't my strong suit, but there are some simple comparisons that provide a picture of things and how they've changed.

Like mac, I attended the University of California (Irvine). I spent a couple of years there and graduated in 1971. For my first year my (tuition) fee was $300, and it increased in my second year to $450.

What does it cost to attend a University of California campus today? I'm guessing that it would be about $8-10K a year, and that doesn't include room and board. Of course, the effects of inflation over the years have had an unquestionable impact, so they must be factored into the picture. Yet, overall, I think most of us can begin to understand that a citizen of the state of California isn't receiving the kind of value that we once did, and unfortunately, it's not just in California. A 4 year degree today is huge money, and it is far beyond what lower and middle class folks can afford.

And where's the Republican party on this in Washington? They just couldn't find agreement with Democrats in maintaining loan interest rates at where they are now. They would prefer that they double. It's pretty clear to me that Republicans aren't willing to invest in America, even though our future depends so much on educating our citizenry.

It amazes me that Republicans don't get the picture.
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1922

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is one of the problems...

According to the national center for education statistics (have not figured out how to link with ipad), we now spend over three times as much per pupil (in today's dollars) than we did in 1960. How much should we spend? We now have less students vs population and spend way more per student.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 13866

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

.... with no results to show for it.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5003

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CB--simply not the case in California. You can't get any lower than last in class size. I know, from spending 15 or so hours a week in a classroom, that for kids who are struggling, more time with someone teaching matters in a huge way.

Salaries and pensions are not the source of bigger budgets--in fact California's budget shrunk by 1/3 during the recession and has not yet come back. Here are the sequential general fund budgets from 2007-8 on, in millions:

2007-8 102,574.0
2008-9 82,772.1
2009-10 87,041.1
2010-11 93,488.9
2011-12 87,070.8
2012-13 95,394.2
2013-14 98,500.6

In California, local governmental pensions and salaries are way too high. You can retire, as a non-police non-fire employee, at 55, with 2.7 times your years of service times your last salary. For State employees, the multiplier is 2.0 at 60, and the salaries are low. Most school teachers make less than truck drivers in public works departments.

Administrators at the University system suck up too much money. You can find things here and there where people are gaming the system and have broken the trust of the public. But they are small in comparison to the number of cuts. And the willingness of conservatives to brag about not paying any attention to the facts. You saw it here.
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