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Shorter Arnold: "Everybody Be Cool, This Is A Robbery"

by: Robert Cruickshank

Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:27:26 AM PDT

Not content to threaten to burn down the state if voters reject Prop 1A, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now threatening to raid local government funding. That Arnold would even contemplate this step shows just how much of a failure he is at governing, and how fundamentally reckless and destructive his administration has been.

As David Dayen explained it yesterday:

Under yet another Prop. 1A from 2004, the state can borrow 8% of property tax revenues (about $2 billion), which would have to be repaid with interest in three years.  The credit cards are open for business again!  While this measure represents 10-15% of the total projected budget gap, it would decimate services at the city and county level, services that - voila! - the state would need to step in to provide.  Also the Governor cannot pull this off unilaterally: it would require a 2/3 vote of the legislature.

The consequences of this would be dire. Our friends at OC Progressive laid out the local impact there:

Fire agencies at every level in Orange County are already under pressure, with  sales tax revenue dropping by double digits and declining revenue from every other source of taxes. Agency by agency, rolling hiring freezes are turning into actual layoffs.

And if you understand what happens when wildfires rage in California, you should be frightened. When wild fires burn in Yorba Linda or Orange, every fire agency, large and small, contributes men and equipment to strike forces that go where they are needed, while working cooperatively through mutual aid agreements to make sure that local needs are still met. They put every piece of equipment into the field, and every firefighter works overtime.

The LA Times projects a further $300 million deficit for the LA County area - on top of the nearly $1 billion they already faced - if Arnold's attack on local government goes forward:

The city of Los Angeles stands to lose more than $67 million, according to the two-page draft proposal. The county, meanwhile, could be particularly hard hit, by some estimates potentially seeing $250 million or more drained away to help the state balance its books.

Cities and counties would probably have to increase layoffs of police, fire, public heath, recreation and other workers, according to the draft.

Even without the raid on local government funds, cities are in a dire position - Oakland mayor Ron Dellums is proposing mass police layoffs to close a $100 million hole.

Dan Walters did an especially good job of calling bullshit on Arnold's scare tactics. But we can and should go further. Why aren't Democrats denouncing these proposals?

A raid on local government funds will push numerous cities, already reeling from the loss of sales tax revenue in a consumption-led downturn, into bankruptcy. Mass layoffs and permanent scaling back of core services will be the result. Additionally, raiding local government will cause public confidence in Democratic legislators to decline even further, and make it difficult for them to add to their seat totals in 2010 or to push through the kind of major reforms we need to fix this mess.

Dems should resist the temptation to go along with Arnold's scare tactics. Those tactics merely anger voters and make them more likely to vote no on all the propositions. Dems need to be projecting an attitude of competence and of determination to protect vital services. They'll need to do that no matter the outcome of May 19.

Raiding local government would push California deeper into recession, and would create further long-term budget problems, especially in 2011 or 2012 when the raided funds would have to be repaid with interest. Dems ought to make it clear that they will never give their votes to this kind of screwy plan, and need to push back hard against Arnold's reckless threats.

Robert Cruickshank :: Shorter Arnold: "Everybody Be Cool, This Is A Robbery"
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Explain How (0.00 / 0)
Republicans and Democrats are united in saying that if the Props fail, it will be, in the words of a leading Democratic Senator "An all cuts budget." Republicans are saying the same.

Like that river in Egypt, it's time for a reality check for 1A opponents. Defeating these props means deep and very real cuts to the most vulnerable Californians. Nobody says this is the best thing since sliced bread, but the consequences of not passing them fair outweigh a "just say no" strategy.

Just watch this and you'll see why I'm working for Prop 1A...

14 GOP legislators opposing Prop 1A


And what does Prop 1A have to do with anything (5.00 / 1)
I know that's what the Yes campaign desperately wants, but considering that 1A contributes not one penny towards this year's budget, what does Prop 1A have to do with these cuts that Arnold is proposing.

The fact is that 1A has absolutely nothing to do with Arnold's proposed cuts, and to say otherwise is a half-truth at best. At worst, well, ...

If you want to do something at least mildly constructive, Steve, spend your time on 1C, where there is actually money, instead of pushing 1A, which would permanently disable the state's budget.

I think?

[ Parent ]
The reason why you're losing (5.00 / 2)
Is because those Dems are going around threatening a cuts-only budget. Voters do not respond as you expect they will to fear. It pisses them off and causes them to lose confidence in those Dem leaders. If they were instead promising to fight to prevent these cuts, folks would be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on the props.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Fruit of a bad tree (0.00 / 0)
The propositions were born in dishonesty and intimidation (intentionally misleading ballot language; punishment of legislators who disagree), and have campaigned the same way (fearmongering threats against public safety; bullying of cities and counties, as if the governor can unilaterally seize their funding; etc.).  I'll be glad when this is over.

[ Parent ]
That's completely false (5.00 / 1)
I have personally talked to multiple legislators who have acknowledged they're pushing for a majority-vote fee increase.  You're blatantly lying about an "all-cuts" budget because you have nothing to sell but fear.  

[ Parent ]
majority rule (0.00 / 0)
  A fee swap--change the gas tax to a fee and increased taxes on corporation and the wealthy.  Overwhelmingly popular--you'll have a new chorus of support from:

 local government

because you will let the courts know judges salaries are going down by half if the fee increase is ruled unconstitutional (and you'll gut their pensions also).
People who can watch with equanimity while the poor are
dying will react quite differently when their ox is gored.

[ Parent ]
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