Dear Jerry (cont.)
Online-only continuation of letters to the governor-elect
You can help the budget crisis by making the workers’ compensation fund take responsibility for their injured workers and not handing [them] off to the overstressed social services system.
This corrupt quasi-state insurer denies claims whilst executives steal hundreds of millions of dollars, has billions in profits, has not lowered premiums to employers and, worst of all, leaves those heroes that build America hurting and broken.
It is time to undo Arnold’s work and care for our fellow human beings. Revamp the workers’ compensation fund and bring those executives to justice.
John E. Cisneros
Welcome! Whew, thank God!
I have had a thought about how to fix this budget. We’ve had “no new taxes” shoved down our throats by the Schwarzenegger administration for so long, but do you wonder how the people really feel about it? I myself would not mind paying a little higher taxes for a short-term to fix this mess rather than cutting so much from the people that need it the most, the CalWORKs, the child care, unemployment, etc. It’s not like California has thousands of jobs available for people.
I think you should put it to a vote or do focus groups asking,“Would you be willing to raise taxes temporarily rather than an ‘all cuts’ budget?”
Maybe there can be some kind of reward at the end for people, not sure what that can be. Good luck, and I wish you every success in the world. I know you can do it.
We voted for you and will again and again. We loved the work you did in Oakland. Our hope is that you will help inspire a reduction of violent crime in this state! Guns are too prominent and violent crime so deeply disturbing!! Whatever needs to be done, we need to do it and set a model for the rest of the country. Violence in the USA herself is outrageous!
We live overseas a lot, serving in the Third World, and it is culture shock coming back to the USA and witnessing the extraordinary amount of crime on the streets. Just yesterday in a Sacramento mall, a 30-year-old mother was shot and killed while taking her little boy to a barber shop. All over the state such things are happening, and it is so very sad and disheartening. Please, lovely Governor Brown, fix this! You will be representing the best that California and therefore this nation has to offer in terms of commitment and the true values of our nation—peace, mutual respect and hope for a better future. Many blessings.
Judy Kenny, Gary Kenny, Becky Kenny
Remain fiscally prudent, repeal Prop 13, institute the greatest progressive tax rate system in the world and begin to repair the damage done to our state (and our nation) after 30-plus years of Reaganomics. Do the right thing, Jerry: Tax the rich! For even Adam Smith once wrote that “[the] rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” Likewise, Jerry, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution doesn’t say “We the Top 1 Percent of the People of the United States”; it says “We the People of the United States.”
Since 2008, there has been no dental-care coverage for adults on Medi-Cal who are not living in institutions. This means that disabled, developmentally disabled, the blind and mentally ill as well as persons with other disabilities and minimal financial resources, not just those on welfare, have been suffering from dental decay, disease and pain for almost three years without even emergency care. Cavities unfilled may lead to infections that affect the individual’s health adversely—even the heart can be affected. Dental pain is excruciating, and narcotic solutions can be addictive. Broken teeth and missing teeth do not help an individual who is trying to pull him/herself out of poverty by finding placement in a job situation. It’s time to reinstate Denti-Cal for at least the Social Security disabled. Taking care of the disabled is a responsibility of civilized government.
John T. Wetherall
As Sacramento prepares to inaugurate Governor-elect Jerry Brown next month, much of the focus has been on the state’s looming budget deficit and how the legislature and Brown plan to bridge that gap. For years now, Californians have been told that we must choose between cutting public services and public service employees or budget Armageddon.
However, this is a false choice that has been driven more by political rhetoric than economic reality, as The Wall Street Journal has observed.
What we must bear in mind, instead, is that there is a direct relationship between California’s quality of life and the quality of its public services and the people who provide those services. Imagine being unable to take a walk in a park on a sunny afternoon or being unable to borrow books from the library or to hang a picture drawn by your child at school on the refrigerator.
Imagine traversing potholed roadways or waiting hours to catch a train or bus home after work or telling your children that you can’t afford to send them to college. For the majority of Californians who have to work for a living, this erosion in our quality of life is already happening.
It is the tragic result of the breakdown of our public-service structures, the despoiling of our common wealth, and the shredding of the social contract by self-interested parties opposed to the very American notion of equal opportunity and a fair deal.
Polls consistently show that a majority of voters support funding for parks, libraries, schools, reliable roads and transit systems, health care, child care and environmental protection.
As stewards of these sources of our common wealth, public-service employees are necessarily more highly educated, more highly skilled and more highly experienced. That is why proposals aimed at slashing public services to balance the budget are self-defeating. Doing so will further despoil our quality of life. In fact, many economists say that diminishing public-service jobs and benefits will retard California’s economic recovery and increase unemployment.
These are unacceptable outcomes.
At this time of economic turmoil, we must find the courage to confront the root cause of our state’s structural budget deficit. Over the past 40 years, state revenues have been in decline, while the state’s expenses have increased.
Interestingly, this development mirrors the predicament that a majority of California residents have experienced over the same time period as their personal incomes have dropped while the cost of living has soared. In the face of such a situation, many California families have tried to increase their incomes by looking for higher-paying jobs or by working two or more jobs. Many families have also borrowed money to prop up their living standards. Others have tried to cut back on their expenses only to realize that doing so would require them to live in squalor or to accept a standard of living inferior to that of their parents’ generation.
Like many of its residents, the Golden State has also engaged in a similar series of stop-gap measures. Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state borrowed extraordinary sums of money to pay its bills. Schwarzenegger and the Republicans have also forced the state to make drastic cuts to its public-service budget, reducing many California communities to Third World conditions. The only thing California has failed to do is to find ways to make more money to meet its obligations.
Fortunately, there are several ways for the state to do this without raising taxes.
One way is for California to close the loopholes in its tax code and to require stricter oversight of all the state’s tax-subsidy programs like the failed enterprise zone program to ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely.
We should also repeal those tax breaks recently handed out to Comcast, Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and Hollywood film studios for the ostensible purpose of creating jobs. This is because these companies have done nothing but ship more jobs out of California and lay off more people.
According to an article by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent Carolyn Lochhead, closing California’s tax loopholes would result in annual budget surpluses for some time to come. If the free market is really as ideal a mechanism for creating wealth as its supporters claim, then why must taxpayers subsidize the operations of private-sector companies?
In fact, since the private sector has so far been unwilling or unable to produce the kinds of jobs we need to pull California out of recession, that is all the more reason to be vigilant with our tax dollars.
The state should also stop paying private contractors more than $34 billion a year to do jobs that civil servants can perform for roughly half the cost. A 2009 analysis by the California State Compensation Insurance Fund and California Research Bureau found that it generally costs the state 50 percent more to hire private contractors than to have state employees perform the same work.
Finally, since most of our tax dollars over the past two years have been spent on unpopular bailouts of the banks and financial institutions that caused the Great Recession we are all living through, this means that the budget deficits we’ve incurred at the federal and state level were brought on by Wall Street.
California should, therefore, institute a surcharge on financial-service transactions like stock trades to make sure that Wall Street, not Main Street, bears the cost of cleaning up this economic mess.
Going forward, we must be steady in our commitment to maintaining a high quality of life through quality public services provided by highly skilled, educated and experienced civil servants while repudiating austerity measures that will transform greater swaths of the Golden State into a Third World nation.
Willie L. Pelote Sr.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
I would like to see policy clarified in state government in regards to contractors working within public health. Verbally, many state employees say that contractors cannot manage or supervise state employees, but it is happening. Specifically, I am talking about UC Davis contracted employees. No one seems to be able to show you the path in writing, so it is all verbal.
Does it matter if the program is federally funded? In my opinion, it should not matter where the money is coming from. The rules are the rules, and no one seems to be following them, especially when it comes to federal money. No matter how you look at it, it is coming out of the taxpayer pocket somewhere.
I ask this question because my experience working with contractors is that the contractors comes in to develop a program, consult state employees on how to work the program and then move on within a specific time frame. They are therefore continued consultation or development if needed but not to manage or supervise the state employee.
Again, I ask what is the policy on this? Public health human resources cannot answer this or they avoid it, nor will the Department of Personnel Administration. Something is not right with this! Hmm?
I ask that if this gets published my name is not printed, as I would fear retaliation in the agency I work in. I look forward to a new governor coming in and new opportunities. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
state employee for 16 years
My name is Kevin Lee Kallvet, I have lived in Sacramento since 1957. I have a state license in painting and fencing, #835870. Regulations in this state are destroying my business. I had to send a check to the [Environmental Protection Agency] for $300 just so I can bid on painting jobs with homes that 1978 or older. EPA is afraid of lead paint; I used lead paint back in 1977 in the United States Navy. I also sell firewood; Sacramento now has restrictions on when a homeowner can burn a fire in their fireplace. The money that I had to send to EPA came out of my pocket. I already have to pay the state for license fees; there is also a bond fee. I did work for California for 14 years—when working for the state I did not have fees just to have the job. Now that I work for myself, I have put over $150,000 dollars in Home Depot for materials. I have put $100,000-plus in Berco Redwood’s pocket for materials. When I worked for the state, I did not put any money into Home Depot or Berco … think about it, Jerry. How much does this help society, the fact that I am putting money back into the economy?
I visited my sisters in Oregon and my cousin in Washington, and I saw millions of trees on the drive from Sacramento. Trees are a resource of the state—why not take some of the trees and make money? We have people who make a living by pushing the spotted owl or what have you in front of people trying to make a living. What do you think of a state where the city and county and state do one thing and the federal government has different laws or a different stand, for example, on marijuana? What is your stand on marijuana? Illegal workers? Quality of Sacramento’s water? Where has all the money gone? What, Jerry, do you think of capitalism? Socialism?
Kevin Lee Kallvet
U.S. Navy veteran, small business owner
I’m glad that you’re the new governor. I hope you do a better job. I hope you can make jobs. Best of luck.
Jennifer K., 22
Salmon have become an endangered species on the American River. Why not let the Folsom [State] Prison convicts or the unemployed build a salmon parkway from the outlet below Folsom Dam, stairlike, up to Folsom Lake on federal or state lands and thereby give the salmon a natural course to their historic breeding grounds above the lake along the American River’s various tributaries?
There will never not be a budget crisis in California. Right now, the next budget crisis has already begun, well in advance of any hyped dismissal (misnamed “resolution”) of the current budget crisis. As a result, the continuing budget crisis has become normal. It has faded into the background. Other than occasional small news markets that need a 30-second spot to fill, no one is paying attention. Our world hasn’t ended, and the budget is toast. The sky hasn’t fallen, and the budget is dust. We’re going about our business—some of us are doing well, and some are not—but the circus-clown act labeled “California state budget” is nothing that anyone (with a real life) has any concern with. To those sorry souls who would believe that a California budget is balanced, doctors and nurses will come, they will attach wires, and after a few painful flashes, the patients will arise and go forth into the light, to run though the motions of their vague lives.
Jonathan Daunt, 59