Welcome back Jerry Brown!
OK, so you might be thinking that my head is still twisted from last month’s election results. Brown has been back in office for close to a year and I’m only getting around to welcoming him now? That’s because only recently has the real Jerry Brown showed up. He had us all fooled there for a time. He came into office saying all the right things. No more partisanship, no more slavishly following the special interest groups, no more tax and spend, no more government as usual in California. He was going to fix things and fix them right. He was going to make this state “Golden” again.
It could have been so different. The governor could have proposed a complete revision of the tax code, one that correctly recognizes that we have become a service-orientated economy. Since we do not manufacture much of anything anymore, he could have considered including services in the sales tax and then lowering the overall tax rate.
He could have set out a plan for encouraging businesses to move to our state. Utah, Arizona and Idaho have very effective strategies for business expansion. They put up billboards here letting companies know how much more inexpensive it is to do business in their states.
He could have passed a law outlawing the introduction of new bills for two years. State officials could have usefully spent the time going back and fixing all the screwed-up bills they have passed in the last 10 years. Or he could have done away with many of the state boards and commissions. For example, we have a state water board and nine additional regional water boards. Or he could have reduced the number of those $100,000-a-year commissioner jobs. You know, the ones where the members meet but four or five times a year to draw their tax-funded government paychecks.
He could have proposed reducing the amount of government regulation in California. You know, such as might allow even a “green” power plant to be designed and built in something less than 10 to 15 years. Or allow a bridge, road or other construction project to move forward without lengthy bureaucracy and litigation. Such measures could have actually improved the unemployment rate and lowered the foreclosure rate.
But these are just pragmatic solution-oriented suggestions. In other words, they are mere “could have beens.” What could have been but won’t be, now that the real Jerry Brown is back in town.
Perhaps he had really thought about fixing things. Perhaps all that meditation he is famous for had really motivated him to try to do what was right for California. Instead, back sitting in the governor’s office the old tax-and-spend Jerry Brown came back. The difference this time is that he is going to submit it to a vote of the people. Expect a special interest-funded multimillion-dollar campaign warning us that libraries will close, schools will be shuttered, and public safety will be put at risk if we don’t pay up. If fixing the problem is not the solution, scare everybody out of their wits.
Welcome back, Jerry Brown! The rest of you can happily reminisce about the good old days — home ownership, secure jobs, Fleetwood Mac and the like. It might take your minds off how far we have gotten away from those comfortable golden ’70s. Me, I’m not dwelling on what once was but thinking about what could have been. It could have been so different.