The real crisis

Northern California Government Affairs Director for Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc. (

While Californians were focused on the continuing energy crisis, the state budget sank to its darkest depths in decades. If taxpayers understood the condition of the state budget, they would storm the docks, deep-sixing tea crates, the governor and state legislators. California’s budget crisis now eclipses its energy policy crisis.

Our state government consumes more from family incomes than at any time in history—$9.09 out of every $100 earned—a record high. While taxpayers cough up more, the state delivers less than ever before.

Consider the last year of Governor Pat Brown’s administration. In 1966, voters “threw the bum out” because they considered him a big spender. Beginning in 1966, the Golden State had embarked upon the greatest period of infrastructure construction in its history. New roads were being built and the state water project promised a reliable supply of water in times of drought. New hydroelectric dams and nuclear power facilities provided inexpensive, clean and abundant electricity. That same year, California spent $1,300 per person (adjusted for inflation). California now spends over $3,000 per citizen.

In 1966, California also had a school system that was the envy of the nation. It cost Californians $3,000 per student from all sources (adjusted for inflation). Today, taxpayers spend over $9,000 per student from all sources, including $5,600 from the general fund alone, for schools that cannot educate our students well.

This is a crisis even bigger than electricity. Judge for yourself:

” Using the U.S. Consumer Price Index inflation factor, real per-capita general fund tax spending in 1983-84 was $1535.

” In 1990-91, real per-capita spending increased to $1693.

” In 1998-99, real per-capita spending increased to $1807.

” In 1999-00, real per-capita spending increased to $1991.

” For 2000-01, per-capita spending was $2305.

” For 2001-02, it’s projected to hit $3000 per man, woman and child.

As these figures show, the state is increasing spending per California resident at an alarming rate. Additionally, this budget includes a permanent, annual $1.2 billion sales tax increase on working families and senior citizens.

Government doesn’t change for the better until the people demand change. California’s 35 million citizens are not demanding better government! Are we satisfied with the most costly government in this state’s history? Do we taxpayers need a therapist to convince us we deserve better treatment and needn’t put up with this abuse?