Democrat state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he doesn't intend to scare people into voting for more taxes on May 19. But he doesn't mind raising the specter of "doomsday scenarios" that could result if voters reject tax increases.
It's entirely in character for Sacramento legislative leaders to pander to base fears to panic taxpayers into being further fleeced.
In one sense Mr. Steinberg may have a point. A Doomsday of sorts could be ahead for state government. A day of judgment. An end to the way things have been. We're tempted to shout, "Halleluiah!"
State government has grown beyond reason. The overall budget increased from $99 billion in 2000-2001 to $144 billion in 2008-2009. While increasing numbers of Californians are losing their jobs, state government added 2,000 full-time bureaucrats from June 2008 to February 2009 alone. The government now educates, medicates, houses, feeds, subsidizes, transports and regulates more Californians than ever, certainly more than is healthy for an ostensibly free society.
If anything, Doomsday for such an over-inflated, out-of-control system is over-due.
We know Sacramento well enough to realize those in control who thrive on other peoples' money intentionally will make the fallout as painful as possible should May's propositions fail. We are unsurprised when Mr. Steinberg portrays the consequences as scary. Notice that he described it as "Doomsday," and not as "a long over-due reigning in of run-away government spending."
Among alleged doomsday scenarios under consideration in Sacramento, according to a Los Angeles Times news story, are "deeper budget cuts." But considering government's growth, deeper cuts appear prudent, not apocalyptic. Other doomsday options could mean health and welfare programs cut further. College spending, which have no guaranteed funding levels, could be reduced, but so too could K-12 public schools, even though that funding is protected by voter-approved minimums, The Times reported.
The truth is that if lawmakers had been acting responsibly, there would be no need for automatically triggered cuts to reduce their overspending. Polls show a Proposition 1A, a two-year extension of income, sales and vehicle tax increases approved in February by the Legislature, is trailing significantly. Prop. 1C, a gimmicky "borrowing" of billions from hoped-for increases in state Lottery revenue, trails too. If Californians finally have reached their tax saturation point, it may mean Sacramento's business as usual indeed is doomed. It's about time.