It really is time for a constitutional convention in California. We can't live in this great state with such a destructive legislative process that has finally run us into the ditch.
If you want to understand how much insanity Prop 13 has wreaked on the state's revenues, just think about DisneyLand:
It's no wonder Disneyland's owners call their amusement park the "happiest place on Earth." For much of its land, Disney pays only a nickel per square foot in property taxes.
In Hollywood, Capitol Records pays a dime per square foot in taxes on the land beneath its famous tower, which resembles a stack of records on a hi-fi. In downtown Los Angeles, owners of the Wells Fargo Center pay about $1.77 a square foot.
And then the problem is compounded by having a hack like Arnold in charge.
Today we witness the damage that the line-item veto causes in the hands of a right-wing governor bent on using it to achieve his long-desired destruction of public services. Arnold's vetoes include:
• An additional $6.2 million cut from state parks, which will likely cause as many as 50 more parks to be closed (potentially 1/3 of parks - 100 total - will now have to close)
• Elimination of state funding for community health clinic programs
• $80 million cut to child welfare services
• Total of about $400 million in health care cuts, including further Healthy Families cuts
• Elimination of funding for the Williamson Act programs to preserve farmland from development
• Deeper cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, as Brian noted.
• Cut 80% of funding for domestic violence shelters
• Elimination of funding for California Conservation Corps
• Cut half of Cal Grant funding, but could be restored "contingent upon enactment of legislation that authorizes the decentralization of the Cal Grant Program and other financial aid programs as warranted."
The state legislature could try and override these vetoes. But as we've seen time and again, this legislature appears to have forgotten that the override power actually exists. It would be a very good chance for Democrats to force Republicans to take a stand on these programs. Either they vote to restore the funding, or they vote to kick kids off of health care and close beaches and parks, giving Dems a set of issues to run on in 2010.
It seems doubtful that such an override will even be attempted. And so California slides deeper into ruin.
I have been considering a run at Jane Harman's seat, but seeing what's happening on the state level has really caused me many sleepless nights.
I sure hope the wealthy won't have reason to tread beyond their gated communities for the next few years because it's going to be a disease riddled, environmental hellhole out here for the rest of us. I suppose they can have supplies helicoptered in and bring their "concierge medicine" behind the fences. They're going to need to.
It's going to be expensive, but at least the losers won't be getting things they don't deserve.