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The LA Times and State Revenues

by: Robert Cruickshank

Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:55:22 AM PST


I'm on my way over to Salinas for the "First Presidential Primary in the Nation" (a local straw poll event), but I thought I'd share with you an op-ed I have in today's LA Times: "Why won't The Times talk tax hikes?"

Obviously you'll have to go to the link to read the whole thing, but the basic point is that the Times has, in its recent reporting, been framing the budget crisis as a problem on the spending side, while not being sufficiently attentive to structural revenue deficiencies. If we're really going to fix the state budget without using this crisis as an occasion to further gut badly needed public services, we need to understand the entirety of the problem, not just one dimension of it.

Robert Cruickshank :: The LA Times and State Revenues
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It is a great (0.00 / 0)
column on an extremely important subject.  I have to say I am a bit shocked that they chose to run it, since it is such a direct attack on the paper itself.

It is a rare occasion that we get to see an argument for a progressive tax policy in the LAT, let alone one from a member of our community wrapped in criticism of the paper.

Really, everybody should go read the whole thing.

Congrats Robert!!  


Ditto That (0.00 / 0)
Congrats on getting the LA Times to publish that. Do you have some incriminating photos on somebody?

Just kidding, the op-ed was, as is always true of your writing, well-written and evidenced a deep understanding of the issues, rather than the superficial POV we get from the major media outlets in the state.

As I went to a bunch of endorsement meetings where Prop 92 was discussed, it is clear that the problem is not that we are overfunding education, far from it, we are underfunding our state in general. For how much longer can we continue to be #45 in teh country for comm. college expenditures and expect to remain the innovation leader?

Good work!

I think?


[ Parent ]
Heh (8.00 / 2)
Photos...what photos?! ;)

Thanks for your compliments, Brian and Julia. It's insane to continue treating budget crises as merely an occasion to continue slashing spending - it's been repeatedly demonstrated that the budget shortfalls are due to structural revenue shortages, that Arnold has exacerbated. If we don't find a way to get the revenue side of things in order, then state government and necessary public services might not survive this coming crisis.

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


[ Parent ]
speaking ideas aloud is a precondition to them becoming politically possible (8.00 / 1)
for a generation at least, our side of the conversation has been silenced, both by media gatekeepers' overt refusal to allow actual liberal voices into the discussion but more often through liberal voters and politicians alike self-censoring their own political ideals because of fear that they were unpopular.

the prop 13 paradigm is collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity, but without a liberal counterargument and alternate vision in the public eye, the crisis it precipitates will not lead to a desperately needed reverse course.

it is time to stop hiding in the shadows. we started talking back here online on the margins, and it is heartening to see the LA times finally take notice and give you a podium. it is disheartening that there are so few big-time pundit/politico voices making the same case with their far greater soapboxes, but then perhaps it is better that this come from citizens.

this mess will not be solved by the mindset that created it, nor by that which stood by and enabled it.


Absolutely (8.00 / 1)
It's time we got out in front of the budget crisis and started advancing our own argument, instead of letting the usual suspects justify their repeated inaction.  

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

[ Parent ]
Yo, Dude, Great Piece! (8.00 / 2)
I especially like where you say:

California's infrastructure backlog -- including schools, waterworks, freeways and transportation -- is largely the product of 30 years of cutting taxes instead of attending to the basic needs of a growing economy and population.

This contrasts markedly with the Gropenator's cause-and-effect-less universe, in which he observed:

the latest studies that have come out, all the California agencies have estimated that actually we need 500 billion dollars in infrastructure over the next 20 years to really catch up with the losses that we have seen over this last 30, 40 years of not building enough infrastructure.  So of course when you look at those numbers you know that there's not enough money out there in the public sector, in the tax base.  We could never afford that.

No, dufus.  We've fallen behind for 30-40 years because idiots like you have repeatedly claimed, "We could never afford that."


That contrast was intended (0.00 / 0)
That Arnold quote is what really set me off - the infrastructure deficit is DIRECTLY linked to the decision to cut taxes over these last 30 years. It's what's piled up the backlog, a backlog that gets more costly over time. That the Times didn't challenge that was what caused me to write the piece. We can't let Arnold get away with that.

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

[ Parent ]
If I recall (8.00 / 1)
somebody once said "a stitch in time saves nine."  Pretty smart fella.

[ Parent ]
Them's A 9-1 Payoff, We Can Do Better! (0.00 / 0)
To wit: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

[ Parent ]
Well, I've Done My Best To Extend This (0.00 / 0)
From my story (in draft form) in the upcoming Random Lengths News:

On November 27, Schwarzenegger gave a speech at USC where he touted a major privatization initiative, to be fully unveiled in his State of the State speech in early January.  Not content with the mere $37 billion in infrastructure bonds just approved by voters last year, Schwarzenegger returned to his grandiose blockbuster roots, envisioning projects more than ten times as expensive.

"We need 500 billion dollars in infrastructure over the next 20 years to really catch up with the losses that we have seen over this last 30, 40 years of not building enough infrastructure." Schwarzenegger said. "So of course when you look at those numbers you know that there's not enough money out there in the public sector, in the tax base.  We could never afford that. And this is why I have been promoting public-private partnerships. [P3s]"

There are just two problems here.  First, as historian Robert Cruickshank noted in a December 9 LA Times Op-Ed, "California's infrastructure backlog -- including schools, waterworks, freeways and transportation -- is largely the product of 30 years of cutting taxes instead of attending to the basic needs of a growing economy and population."  A problem produced by cutting taxes can hardly be solved by more of the same.

This brings us directly to problem number two. Schwarzenegger's favorite example, which he says that California should follow, is British Columbia (BC).  But in early October, Larry Blain, chief executive officer of Partnerships BC, the organization created to oversee BC's P3s, told a conference here in California that P3s do not produce a new source of money.

"Clearly all the money is coming from the government," Blain said. "It's debt of the province, whether you borrow it as bonds, or contract over a 35-year period."



[ Parent ]
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