Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 9:00 am | Light Rain 55º


Tony Strickland: Irresponsible Past Catches Up with Cash-Poor California

State government is too large and we can’t afford it, but fundamental reform can get us back on track

Just the other day I came across one of those stress-relief hand squeeze balls. Except this one was tan and shaped like a peanut and read, “NEVADA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORTY 888-4-NO-TAXES (” I went onto its Web site and a picture popped up about moving to Southern Nevada. Then an image of a young couple with a baby and such words as no income taxes, labor, lifestyle, cost of living, technology and transportation flashed across the screen. By the time I was done exploring the site, Southern Nevada was looking like a pretty attractive place to live.

In addition, last week I stumbled across an article in The Sacramento Bee newspaper titled, “Golden State Losing Folks as Old Dust Bowl Beckons.” The article talked about “as California housing prices went wild in the middle of this decade, hundreds of thousands of residents scratched their heads and moved to places where homes were still affordable, state and federal statistics show. When prices started falling and unemployment started rising, many continued to leave California for healthier job markets.”

There is no question California has entered a rough patch. However, the direction legislators choose to go from here can make a world of difference.

Unfortunately, the reality is that our state has run out of money. We have overspent for years, and now the painful effects of past decisions have caught up with us. No decisions that the legislature make will be easy. In fact, they will be hard. But the fact is the state must make the tough decisions to solve the state’s deficit before California goes bankrupt.

I believe California must now make the tough decisions to reform old business practices here in Sacramento. Even with our $24.3 billion budget deficit, you wouldn’t believe the kind of waste, fraud and abuse that still exists in government.

For years I’ve been fighting against government waste, which is why once again, just as I had done in the Assembly, I authored a bill to get rid of political patronage by eliminating salaries from certain boards and commissions that make more than $100,000 a year for one to two days worth of work a month. Instead, they should be given a $100 daily per diem for every day they work, like most board members and commissioners get in California. My legislation, Senate Bill 685, which could have saved California $7,177,442 per year, would have done just that but failed in the Senate Government Organization Committee.

California’s government has grown too large and we can’t afford it. We need to learn to live within our means by holding state spending to population plus inflation. If we would have done just that since 1990, we would be faced with a $15 billion surplus instead of historic deficits.

California must reform old practices and make government more accountable for its actions. We need to reform our business tax structure so that we are more in line with other states. Right now, it costs 20 percent more to do business in California.

To strengthen our state, we need to foster a business environment that encourages innovation and the creation of new kinds of jobs entirely. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to transition California to a renewable more energy economy, to jumpstart the economy, create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve the environment and lower energy prices. We also must focus on job growth by cutting unnecessary red tape on businesses and by improving business competitiveness in California.

California must take into account real fundamental reform in order for us to regain our competitiveness and get back on the right track. Once California has taken the necessary steps to reduce government waste and encourage job development and growth, then we will be headed in the right direction.

We want Nevada sweating over how California’s Development Agency is going to attract Nevadans to California. Not the other way around.

Sen. Tony Strickland represents California State Senate District 19, which includes portions of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

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