California Budget Eliminates Welfare, Closes State Parks

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in California

California voters had their say and now Schwarzenegger is doing what needs to be done.

From Mercury News:

In a state that long has prided itself on its social safety net, it could well go down in history as the most drastic reduction in social programs ever. And billions in further cuts will be unveiled later this week.

The governor’s proposal to whack an additional $5.5 billion from state programs stunned even longtime Capitol-watchers with its blunt force. Ending cash assistance for 1.3 million impoverished state residents, for example, would make California the only state with no welfare program. [...]

The governor’s office reiterated that the cuts were painful but unavoidable, with the proposed budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year already outdated before lawmakers even begin debate. Schwarzenegger’s finance team now says the deficit will grow to $24.3 billion by July 1, up from the previous $21.3 billion projected shortfall.

Here are all of the proposed cuts…



So why is this happening?

Well, most of what you need to know is in this article. Basically, the blame is shared by both the citizens of CA and the government, and these cuts seem to be the only way to make things right. Spending must be reigned in since any new taxes or tax increases in California have to approved by a 2/3rds majority in both houses, and that’s an almost impossible feat.

More as it develops…


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 and is filed under California. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

32 Responses to “California Budget Eliminates Welfare, Closes State Parks”

  1. kranky kritter Says:

    Ahh! Brinksmanship.

    So, tax increases, then?

  2. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Which of these eliminates services for non-citizens in the state illegally?

  3. Tully Says:

    LOL.

    So why is this happening?

    Because when cutting budgets, pols ALWAYS cut programs to the public before cutting any of the entrenched bureaucracy. They then blame the resulting pain on the opposition. (“Look what you made me do!”)

    Will’s comment as quoted in The Atlantic article is highly relevant. Bread and circuses.

  4. Mike A Says:

    Exiled’s questions a good one if you’re a tax-paying citizen in CA.

    It would be also be of interest to know if the governor also laid-off government employees in charge of running and managing these programs. Otherwise this act can be seen as simply a public display intended to arm-twist tax hikes.

  5. Chris Says:

    The problem is that many of those non-citizens still pay income taxes and sales taxes. But it’s hard to tell how many services they actually use, such as education, police, healthcare, and the such.

    But my first thought is: great, now all the poor people will move here. Which happens all the time from chicago. Second thought is, interesting how it’s always public social works type stuff that gets cut first.

  6. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Because when cutting budgets, pols ALWAYS cut programs to the public before cutting any of the entrenched bureaucracy. They then blame the resulting pain on the opposition. (”Look what you made me do!”)

    People have a bizarre idea of what a government bureaucrat does. Detroit privatized garbage collection a few years back. This means every bureaucrat responsible for trash in the entire City of Detroit got fired. Every program on this list of cuts includes government bureaucrats. Insurance for poor children only works if you know which children are poor, and you can keep track of claims. That means caseworkers, claims-adjusters, etc. Each person on Welfare has a caseworker. That’s a lot of government bureaucrats Ahnold just terminated.

    BTW, take his figure about increasing government spending in Cali with a huge grain of salt. In Michigan we’ve had years of budget cuts, but technically state spending has increased. Bush loved block grants, and if the Feds give you $1 Billion to run Medicaid your state budget increases by $1 Billion. Which you can’t shift over to fund the state cops because Uncle Sam said so and it’s his money. Granholm got a lot of disingenuous crap from the GOP for “increasing spending” prior to the 2006 election. It didn’t stick.

    I’d be stunned to find out that Cali’s budget wasn’t artificially inflated by the same factors. Particularly since all state budgets have to have approval from 2/3 of the Legislature, and be balanced. It’s very hard to believe a GOP that would veto any tax increase would let through significant spending increases without damn good justification.

  7. Tully Says:

    Nick, you’re missing something there. Namely that it’s explicitly the entrenched bureaucracy I’m talking about–the permanent machinery of state government. If you look over that list of cuts you’ll see that almost all of the program funding being cut goes fairly directly to the public or to outside service providers, not to paying state salaries.

    Except for the direct robbing “borrowing” of city gas tax revenues, of course. Which will in turn result in cities having to cut THEIR budgets to offset.

  8. Paul Says:

    California is in a financial mess and the citizens and their elected officials are to blame.

  9. the Word Says:

    Enron helped a bit too

  10. gerryf Says:

    Paul,

    While certainly not blameless, do you really lay all of this at the feet of the residents of California and its elected officials? By that logic, every state in the nation and its residents are to blame as every state is suffering right now.

    California and every other state is suffering because of the policies of the last 30 years that have resulted in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Widespread home foreclosures and high unemployment have resulted in a desperate situation and it is a simply assessment to blame it on the people who happen to be standing when the music stops.

    The irony of all this is that the Governator has opted to cut the safety nets that were put in place exactly for this scenario.

    I expect to see refuges fleeing across the (state) border into surrounding states.

  11. Simon Says:

    Gerry, it’s in this mess because it spends too much money, a problem that the Governor is now attempting to reconcile. Laying the blame at the feet of the recent so-called financial crisis (whatever the causes of that may be, and your version is of course a gross oversimplification at best, see Richard Posner, A Failure of Capitalism (2009), verging on distortion) doesn’t work unless California was doing swimmingly until the crisis began, and the record doesn’t seem to show that. California was already in hot water before the crisis, and why? Same reason. It spends too much money.

  12. kranky kritter Says:

    I’ll 2nd Simon here.

    As a centrist, I think I can fairly add this:anyone eager to blame all our current problems on misguided conservative policy and big bad evil business is a moron.

    There’s plenty of blame to go round. Anyone who is blaming this all on their personal lifetime list of bad guys isn’t trying and isn’t looking hard enough. If these events have done nothing more than to confirm that you personally were correct in all your political views, you have work to do.

    I am fine with blaming big bad evil business for their disgraceful role in pumping up the real estate bubble. And I expect them to pay dearly for it over the coming decades. Forthrightly stipulated.

    But the root cause of current circumstances is our systemic willingness, both as individuals and collectively as government to live beyond our means, to make promises we mathematically could not keep (in the form of things like state pensions, social security, medicare, etc etc), and to ignore our nation’s demographic trends, all the while assuring ourselves that “I’m sure it will be fine.”

    We all abetted this delusional fantasy. Now it’s over. Time to wake up and clean up. Pointing the finger of blame at other folks is just one’s way of ramping up one’s own personal argument about why one is blameless and doesn’t deserve to be asked to sacrifice. Compared of course to all the other bad people who DO deserve their fate, and SHOULD be punished, and MUST make big sacrifices.

    And even if it’s true that someone else deserves to be blamed or be punished, the sad fact is that in order to fix things, we’ll all be stuck facing the fact that deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

    We’re all going to get poned by various broad-based policy changes to reconcile what we get with what we can afford as a nation. There will be no individual meetings with the mayor or the governor or the President where you get to explain why you need every penny that last SS letter promised, or why you should be exempt from the new gas tax or sales tax hike, yada=yada-yada.

    Over the next century we will be required to face our nation’s demographic trends and the fact that more and more of the rest of the world is catching up to us. Can standards of living rise across the rest of Earth without the American standard of living declining? That’s the big question, Jimmy, that’s the big question.

  13. ExiledIndependent Says:

    /agree kranky. Also just read that Cali approved a $300 million dollar tax break for Apple to build a big server farm. *sigh*

  14. gerryf Says:

    Simon, Kranky,

    Sorry guys, but you are coming from the premise that all government is bad and spending is bad–you can certainly have that opinion, but to call someone a moron just because you’ve got 30 years of conservative dogma and little else backing you up seems a little thin.

    There are two sides of the equation–too much spending or too little revenue.

    You fall on the side of too much spending automatically because that is the tripe the GOP has pushed for 30 years. Cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes and starve the beast. Or, in reality, while we are in power let’s spend like crazy so that when the Democrats get in power we can scream about budget deficits and over spending.

    What if we’d actually taken a different tact? What if we tax and spent responsibly? What if we actually opted to pay for what we receive? What if instead of cutting taxes on the wealthy for 30 years, we had maintained a reasonable tax base (I’m sure we could fight about that all day long).

    There is simply no denying that the last 30 years have been all about the consolidation of massive wealth in the hands of the relatively few. We would be in a far different situation if we had taxed, legislated and spent wisely.

    Yes, Kranky and Simon, that includes living within our means–but that’s not what the last 30 years of conservative idealology has been about. You know it, I know it. Calling people a moron simply because they don’t subscribe to your particular philosophy doesn’t change that.

  15. Tully Says:

    ROFLMAO.

    California is in trouble because California consistently and continuously increased state spending at rates enormously higher and faster than the economic growth of the state of California could support, namely, rates far in excess of the growth of state revenues. Period. If you spend more than you make, sooner or later you run out of people willing to lend you money to keep spending

    Now, one can certainly apportion blame to the irresponsible legislators, and one can certainly apportion blame to the voters of California for continuing to vote for irresponsible legislators. Since after all, they are the ones responsible.

  16. kranky kritter Says:

    Sorry guys, but you are coming from the premise that all government is bad and spending is bad–you can certainly have that opinion, but to call someone a moron just because you’ve got 30 years of conservative dogma and little else backing you up seems a little thin.

    I can’t speak for Simon. But you’re way off about me. You come here often, so I am inclined to believe that you just do not listen. If I am wrong, I apologize in advance.

    I constantly advocate the simple notion that government, just like the people, ought to spend within its means. That’s not fiscal conservatism, it’s just fiscal responsibility.

    I accept the democratic premise that the government basically is us, for better or worse. You and Me. And Simon, and Tully, and Harden, and Justin, and Jay and Exiled and everyone else. We can balance the ledger either by collecting more or by spending less. Which choice we make is a matter for the people to decide via their representative local, state, and federal governments. It’s up to us. And we don’t agree, and so it’s ok to decide on a majority vote. But spending well beyond our means really ought not to be simply subject to the majority’s will. That’s how we got here. Spendind substantially beyond our means is just not a sustainable practice.

    That said, the notion that we were somehow brought to this primarily due to the fundamental unsoundness of conservative ideology is, to speak plainly, comical. To quote Pogo, “we have seen the enemy and he is us.”

    It’s just not a democratic way/republican way problem. It’s not even really a conservative way/liberal way problem.

    What is it? It’s a what we want/what we can afford problem.

    I have made it clear on copious occasions here that this is my PoV on it. So don’t go grouping me in with the “conservative dogma” crowd. You embarrass yourself to the folks who know where I stand.

    And if I am sounding really harsh(and kranky), I apologize for that too. If indeed I deserve to be forgiven, it’s because I get awfully sick of getting lumped in with all the conservatives every time I disagree with a liberal. BTW, I get just as sick of get awfully sick of getting lumped in with all the liberals every time I disagree with a conservative. Between the two, it’s what makes me such a kranky kritter.

  17. Tully Says:

    I’m still laughing over the idea that life was all peachy-keen rainbow-unicorn and happy-puppy land thirty years ago. Having actually lived through the Carter years and all. I waited in gas lines on the days I was permitted to buy gasoline, lived in my car for a while, cleaned up construction sites for $20/day to prevent starvation, mowed neighbor’s lawns in exchange for garden produce to ward off scurvy, etc.

    Ah, those were halcyon days! 10%+ unemployment for years on end, interest and inflation rates both well over 15% and headed up, our military demoralized and degenerating, etc. Who wouldn’t look back on all that with fond nostalgia?

  18. Chris Says:

    I don’t think he was implying that it was better 30 years ago, just that it’s been 30 years of bad policy to land us at this point.

  19. gerryf Says:

    Thank you Chris…that is exactly what I said. It’s nice to see someone actually read what others are saying as opposed to people screaming no one ever reads what they are saying, ala Tully and Kranky.

    Kranky, I know exactly where you stand. You’re right, it’s not fair to lump you in with conservative ideologues. However, you often espouse “conservative” points as if they are fact, at least when speaking in shorthand.

    For example, you speak of fiscal responsibility–a cliché when it comes from the right. Even if you are sincere in your desire for “fiscally responsible government” you approach it from a perspective of always over spending –you did it in this very thread.

    My point is that it is sometimes over spending, but it is often under-funding. I look at two sides of the equation. You want to be fiscally responsible? Then stop cutting off your nose to spite your face, as the GOP has done for 30 years. It is they who pursue tax cuts to the detriment of everyone but the rich. It is they who spend money they don’t have and let others clean up after them.

    It was FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE to give tax cuts to the rich, and then launching an unnecessary war and spend money without care or concern on other things.

    As someone mentioned earlier, the chickens have come home to roost. But it’s not ONLY the chickens (over-spending) people are pointing a finger at. It is spending what money we had unwisely and it is giving people in power more money and more power.

    Tell you what cranky…I won’t lump you in with “conservatives” anymore.

    I’ll call you “the thinks he’s a fiscally responsible, but kranky guy who only looks at half of every story and no one ever understands him and everyone else is a moron class.”

    And Tully, you apparently didn’t learn anything back in those “halcyon days”

  20. Simon Says:

    kranky kritter Says:

    We can balance the ledger either by collecting more or by spending less.

    This is the only nit I’d pick with your comment. We can balance the ledger by spending less. We can attempt to balance the ledger by collecting more, but that only works if there is a small gap to close. The more money you try to extract from the economy by taxation, the more you simply beget inefficiencies and limit the overall productive capacity of the economy, which in turn reduces what can be collected. That’s why it’s a mistake to calculate tax revenues after tax rate changes with the assumption that the numbers will remain static relative to one another (hence the laffer curve, for example).

  21. theWord Says:

    Would that mean we could safely increase taxes to the rate during Laffer’s influence in the Reagan years or is the theory that it will always decrease tax revenues no matter how low it has been reduced to should it go back up at all? I actually don’t know what he thinks he knows on this. This is trickled on economics isn’t it?

  22. shane Says:

    gerryf,

    I’ve heard the cry “Rich aren’t paying enough” too many times on this site.

    Here is the data from the IRS web site for your review. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/06in03etr.xls. If you look at the last group on this spreadsheet you’ll find that the top 50% of income tax payers are footing the bill for the 97% of the income tax revenue. The top 5% of the tax payers had 60% of the share in 2006, an increase from 2003 when it the same group was paying 53%. Across the board, the % of income tax share went up consistently during the 2003-2006 time period.

    So if this isn’t a “reasonable tax base” please share what top % group you want to tax more and how much more they should pay. When I look at it, I see only half of the population paying for the rest. It seems to be a clear spending problem.

  23. Tully Says:

    Once again you misrepresent what I’ve said and even how I’ve said it, gerryf. I’m still waiting for you to show us how CALIFORNIA got to the position it’s in, but you seem intent on restricting yourself to cliche-ridden substance-free diversionary rants demonizing those you don’t like. Nothin’ like changing the subject to show off your dedication to addressing the post topic, eh?

    Well, I didn’t expect any sense out of you, no factual analysis or relevant evidence for buttressing your spews, just sense-free frothing ideological BS and reactionary ad hom, and you’ve completely fulfilled my expectations.

  24. kranky kritter Says:

    Gerry, if you must pigeonhole me, then count me as someone who doesn’t care whether the imbalance is called overspending or underfunding. In the end, it just doesn’t matter compared to understanding that current imbalances are harmful and unsustainable.

    The base point remains that you gotta balance what you spend with what you have. I’ll leave it to partisan to argue about how to get there.That leaves me knowing that I in fact AM fiscally responsible compared to you. Because you are apparently willing to try to get to balance if it can be reached in the ideologically proper way. I don’t care. I just know everyone is going to have to get poned in one way or another.

    Since I didn’t support tax cuts, I feel no obligation to defend them against your rant. But focusing on tax cuts is only a part of the story, and it’s the one focused on by folks eager to highlight GOP fiscal policy as the primary cause of where we are. But what about government revenue? How has that fared historically in the wake of various tax cuts and tax increases? The data is mixed, constantly argued about, and defies your attempts at simplification.

    In the interest of fair disclosure, I’m happy to state that I am quite agnostic on the notion that the federal deficit has been primarily caused by tax cuts. At best, that’s an oversimplification. At worst, it’s a distraction, because it promises everyday people THEY won’t have to suffer to get things fixed. If you ask me, the sooner we all face the scope of it, the better.

    Demographic trends are a better place to look for a cause to burgeoning deficits. The biggest part of the rise in federal spending is to fund medicare and social security. And that’s a “more people collecting, fewer contributing” problem. One that is getting worse every day that fewer old people die and fewer tax payers are born. Its scope is too vast to be bridged simply by collecting a bit more from the richest folks.

    Simon: right. Go too far one way or the other and you produce swamping effects. We couldn’t cut taxes to zero either.

  25. Tully Says:

    Two things to consider — the effects of taxation on growth, and the Laffer Curve.

    It’s indisputable that taxation affects growth, and that higher taxation leads to lower growth, and consequently a smaller future tax base. And vice versa. Even the Neo-Marxists have figured this out.

    It’s likewise indisputable that Laffer was right — there is a point of diminishing and even negative revenue returns in taxations. Most people either supporting or denying the Laffer Curve fail to understand what it actually says. Anti-taxers perpetually claim that all tax cuts result in higher revenues, which is patently false. They only result in higher revenues if the tax is being reduced from past the inflection point of the Laffer Curve for that particular tax. Pro-taxers likewise have the mistaken idea that tax hikes always results in higher revenues, which is likewise patently false. Same thing, just approaching the inflection point of the curve from the other side. Once you get past that point for any given tax, revenues begin to fall.

    To make it even more fun, the inflection point of the Curve for any given tax or bundle of taxes is not a constant but a moving target, somewhat dependent on outside socio-economic factors. Laffer was explicit about all of this in his original formulations, BTW, which so few bother to either read or consider. But this ain’t rocket science, just applied basic economics, sustained by the empirical research.

    What you (as a government) end up doing is balancing growth (and thus future tax base) against current taxation, hoping to maximize revenues by staying in the sweet spot of the curvee, near the inflection point. Go over, and revenues shrink. Go under, and you’re not capturing all the revenue you could while maintaining economic growth.

  26. John Says:

    Welfare is horribly unfair. It isn’t fair that I have to work hard to pay for someone who doesn’t. Let’s end ALL welfare now.

    I grew up dirt poor, but I never lived on welfare, I did however learn to live without. It made me a stronger person and a much harder worker.

    We are enabling people to become slackers and dependent upon others for support. This is a crooked system. All welfare and government programs of support should be ended. People should self-supportive. It’s the only way to live proudly.

  27. kranky kritter Says:

    Last time I checked, pride was one of the seven deadly sins. WWJD?

  28. John Says:

    I’m sorry for the mix-up, scratch proudly, replace that with SELF-DIGNITY. I am a born-again Christian, I just chose the wrong word to describe what I meant. Welfare on the other hand is taking what they didn’t earn with their own hands to live off of, aka stealing. Let’s end the welfare madness.

  29. John Says:

    On the other hand Kranky Kritter, let’s not side-step from the issue at hand…

    WELFARE IS A WASTE! I’m sick of supporting people who choose not to work, claim they are disabled, or even are disabled. I have seizures all the time, I had a traumatic brain injury, I was born and raised dirt poor–I’ve never once relied on the government for support. Instead, I am supporting other LAZY people. It is absurd. END WELFARE NOW.

    Don’t bother commenting back to me on this one, I won’t be checking back again–plus, I think God would agree with me on it. :) Have a great day.

  30. the Word Says:

    John wrote
    Welfare on the other hand is taking what they didn’t earn with their own hands to live off of, aka stealing.

    Sounds like an apt description of Bush’s (or Dan Quayle’s) political career. One of my favorite quotations is “No one talks more of hard work and self reliance than the guy who inherited his father’s store.” Glad that doesn’t seem to apply in your case but I always wonder at the vitriol toward the people at the bottom with nary a word about the huge amounts greasing the skids of people at the top who “earned” their way by being born to success.

    P.S. that Jesus fella was known to hang out with and side with the poor so you may want to reread the book. He might be really disappointed in your harsh view of people who probably run the gamut from what you say to what you are clueless about.

  31. kranky kritter Says:

    That something is inefficient and wasteful is not a good argument for abolition, only for reform.

    Few folks support welfare fraud, just as few folks support the elimination of welfare just becuause of its easily demonstrable excesses. I think most folks support the notion of a safety net to help folks out for some transitional period while they are experiencing hard times. And most folks deeply dislike the notion of welfare support as a long-term lifestyle choice. Unless it’s for folks with a serious demonstrable disability.

    So any viable reform would need to coalesce around that sort of consensus. Just getting rid of it seems like a non-starter, if you ask me. Empty venting, IOW.

  32. Wise1 Says:

    Our government is run by those who need for naught and rule over us through indifference. They excuse themselves when they screw up and condemn those whose lives are turned up-side-down by the flippant judgements and twisted application of the laws in place. Pre-dominately it’s the rich who gets elected to office, because they are the only ones who can afford to pursue it. The majority of the lower percentage are the friends and family of this group who then reap the benefits that come with government employment. Those who benefit the most from our democracy will always be those in this group who also feel entitled to what they have access to. If you want to address those who have abused WELFARE or any other public assistance programs, look inward to those who control the funding & allocation of these funds paid by taxes. LOOK at those who have MILKED our economy by the misuse of judicial authority. Our government has been run by those who use their positions to run their own Welfare System which has NO TERM LIMITS. Yes, our elections are’nt rigged…yet we seem to MOSTLY be stuck with the choice between the lesser of two, three or four evils!! WHY IS THAT???

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