Right Direction? Wrong Direction?

What’s up with Californians?

A new Field Poll of California registered voters reveals that 48% of them say the state is heading in on the right track. That’s not a majority, but it’s a plurality, as just 44% believe the state is going in the wrong direction. (That’s my bunch, in case you were wondering.) The usual six percent is too stupid to know which way anything is going.

wrong wayIt wasn’t that long ago, May 2011, when two thirds of Californians felt the state was headed in the wrong direction, according to PPIC. Have things really gotten that better?

It may look that way. There was no big budget fight this year. A lot thought that was a real breakthrough for the better. But it was just because the Democrats had more than enough votes to pass it, given the newly passed 50 percent (instead of 2/3) threshold for that vote. And lately the Gov has been crowing about all the new money that’s coming in since the voters passed the Prop 30 tax hikes in November.

I make the case that the Field Poll number is an indication things are actually getting worse. Think about it. In the November election Barack Obama got over 60 percent of the California vote compared to Mitt Romney’s 37 percent, and in 2010 Jerry Brown beat Republican Meg Whitman by almost 13 points. So it’s clear: California has a ton of Democrats. And the Dems own the governor’s office, the State Senate and the State Assembly.

And what do we know about those hoards of Democrats? They’re the ones responsible for California’s high taxes, deep debt, anti-business policies, expensive over-regulation and unsustainable kowtowing to public employee labor unions. All of that has been, and will continue to, send California off in the wrong direction.

And really, since the Democrats so dominate the state’s demographics and politics, 60 percent of the people should think the state is headed in the right direction.  The fact that it’s just 48 percent tells us a lot of Democrats are smarter than the state’s Democrat Party.

Like I said, I’m with the 44 percent on this one. So is CalWatchdog, which sums up the reasons very well:

Brown’s promised that, if voters approved the Prop. 30 tax increases and he cut spending, his 2013-14 state budget would achieve a budget surplus of $851 million – the first surplus in a decade.  …

But yesterday, Brown began negotiations for new contracts with the public-worker unions that represent 350,000 state workers — engineers, administrative staff, librarians, corrections officers and more. The contracts are due to expire this summer.

Even though the average state worker’s salary in California is $70,777, nearly $16,000 higher than the national average, these unions expect a big pay raise for providing the millions of dollars for campaign ads and thousands of campaign foot soldiers that caused the passage Prop. 30.  Brown has already promised to “restore” $817.6 million in pay in the current budget, offer $502.1 million of 2 percent to 5 percent pay raises next year and add coverage for higher health care costs.

He indicated executive branch salaries also will increase nearly 10 percent, to $15.7 billion.  None of these increases includes the $10 billion increase I estimate that is required to keep the current state pension system solvent.

The state of California is now facing an even bigger crisis than before the passage of Prop. 30.  It’s now feeling the economic impacts of the highest state sales tax at 7.5 (even higher in come counties), top income tax rate of 13.3 percent and second-highest gasoline tax at $.67 per gallon.

As those higher taxes kick in, expect tax receipts to drop as capital moves out of state to seek lower tax rates elsewhere. (The Laffer Curve)  Brown & Co. will have spent the temporary largess instead of putting it away for the inevitable rainy day, and we’ll be worse off than before the tax hikes.

I really hate being a pessimist. I’m really a very positive guy. It’s just hard to keep smiling and whistling cheerily when you write about California.

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