Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good grief folks, it's California. Don't support wise public policy!

Sometimes I wonder if California really is run by the crazies.

So far, two of the state's major newspapers have literally said we cannot support carefully crafted, wise public policy basically because Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, the Democratic Legislative Leaders, and teachers unions prefer unwise, poorly designed public policy.

We have two competing initiative measures circulating to get enough signatures to get on the November ballot.

One was prepared by Molly Munger and supported by the California PTA. Munger's measure would increase income taxes in a progressive manner on every income earner in California except the poorest workers among us. It is the one tax increase measure now circulating specifically aimed at improving California's economic future by educating California's children for a 21st Century economy.

In February the Sacramento Bee's Editorial Board said: "Munger makes a compelling case that this is a once-in-lifetime chance to invest directly in the improved education of California's children." But that wasn't good enough for them to back Munger's measure over the one proposed by Governor Moonbeam. They clearly said it would be better to focus on dumping more money into the State General Fund as the measure sponsored by Governor Moonbeam would do.

So far, in the past week The Los Angeles Times has published an Op-Ed piece and a piece by their Capitol Journal columnist explaining that Munger's measure is better but we have to support Moonbeam's.

The venerable Times Capitol Journal columnist George Skelton explained as he tells Munger to step aside (emphasis added):
No public poll — or recent private survey that I'm aware of — shows Munger's tax initiative with any real chance of passing voters' muster in November.

...Munger became increasingly frustrated with Brown after repeatedly trying to unite with him on a school funding proposal and being rebuffed.

Actually, Munger's tax measure makes more public policy sense than Brown's. It just makes less sense politically.
Of course, Skelton has repeatedly endorsed Moonbeam's measure and attacked Munger. This is the first time he's clearly acknowledged: "Munger's tax measure makes more public policy sense than Brown's." How could people know Munger's measure is better? Up to this point, not by reading Skelton in the Times.

The other piece published in the Times was an Op-Ed piece by Jim Newton in which he says:
Both measures start with the recognition that California is deeply in debt and that even years of cutting haven't brought it into balance. Brown would address that shortfall with a combination of a sales tax increase and a tax hike on income of more than $250,000 a year. In economic terms, that's not an ideal approach. It increases the tax burden on the poorest Californians, who pay a greater percentage of their incomes in sales taxes and who can least afford to pay higher taxes, and the richest Californians — those whose incomes gyrate most wildly with the economy and thus contribute to the instability in the state's revenue collections.

Munger's proposal, by contrast, avoids sales taxes altogether and boosts state income taxes by 1% across the board. That still means that high-income taxpayers would shoulder most of the burden because the income tax is progressive, but they wouldn't shoulder all of it. And taxpayers at all levels would have to chip in. That's more stable and more widely distributed than Brown's plan....

Brown's plan has the advantage of focusing its burdens on the poor, who don't vote much, and the rich, of whom there aren't very many....

...Munger's pitch is simple: California's educational system is tragically broken, and voters, even voters who don't usually like taxes, have said they are willing to pay something to fix it.
But nobody in the press has even hinted at the idea they'll support Munger's measure over Moonbeam's.

It's sad, really. If you read Munger's measure which practically nobody does, it offers serious solutions to our biggest economic problem and does so in a manner designed to avoid the problems of our dysfunctional State Government.

It wisely cuts out of the decision-making process politicians in the serially floundering Legislature plus the Governor, leaving it all to school boards.

Because it relocates to local school boards decision-making on how within certain guidelines the money is to be spent, it cuts the statewide union lobbyists out of the picture, forcing local teachers to work with locals school boards.

And it prevents the new funds from being used for administration.

And it even gets more taxes from the wealthy even though the press generally says Moonbeam's measure is a "tax the rich" measure.

And it.... I could go on and on, but I've already done that in a previous post.

It's disturbing that our serious, responsible California press can't support Munger's measure, though they admit it is much better public policy, because according to them the voters would prefer to extract money from the poorest working people among us, as well as from the richest among us, to dump into the State General Fund for the Legislature and Governor to play with.

Yeah, right.

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