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Alice Khosravy: One party rule disappointing

Posted: October 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

In today’s political and economic environment, it’s tempting to wish for one party rule as a way to break the gridlock. Having a majority number of the votes necessary to enact, or stop, legislation is advantageous but, when the majority reaches the point of silencing the minority party, the public loses. The Golden State of California is a perfect case study when exploring the difference between being a majority party and one party rule.

All eight elected statewide constitutional offices in California are currently held by Democrats. They have a 25-15 edge in the 40-member state Senate, a 52-28 majority in the 80-member state Assembly, and a 3-2 advantage on the Board of Equalization. In addition, there are thousands of appointments to courts, boards, and commissions made by the governor and the Legislature. Unfortunately for the people of California, this has resulted in a majority party that no longer sees a need to discuss ideas with those in the minority. What record does the silo-based majority have to show?

Budget

According to the Los Angeles Times’ online budget calculator, “The state’s budget shortfall for the rest of this fiscal year and next, estimated to be $28 billion, is the size of the total general fund budget of 12 states combined.”

The Legislature often resorts to borrowing and accounting tricks that leave deficits intact for the following year. The situation was so dire that the citizens passed a ballot initiative to eliminate the two-thirds requirement to pass a budget in exchange for the ability to penalize law makers with loss of pay if they failed to produce an on-time balanced budget. The first test came last year when the Legislature produced a budget that was, in the opinion of state Controller John Chiang, out of balance. Chiang withheld pay, standing by the terms of Proposition 25. However, politicians went to court and won on the argument that the only agency entitled to make the determination as to whether the budget is balanced is the Legislature itself.

Jobs

With an unemployment rate statewide of more than 10 percent — and more than 20 percent in some parts of the state — we can hardly call California the land of opportunity anymore. California has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation and all forecasts are that it will remain above the national average for the foreseeable future.

No one knows what the true unemployment rate in California is today as many people have simply dropped out of the workforce and are no longer counted. What we do know is that in order to raise the employment figures, at least in the private sector, more companies need to see California as a profitable place to do business.

Business climate

While we don’t yet have 2012 numbers, we know that “In 2011, 254 California companies moved some or all of their work and jobs out of state, 26 percent more than in 2010,” thanks to The Orange County Register’s report in March 2012. The number of organizations and publications that show California as the most business unfriendly state in the union are immeasurable. Next year is sure to bring more of the same as the “green energy” mandates boost commercial electrical rates, already averaging 50 percent higher than the rest of the country, up another 19 percent in industries across the board. Does the state leadership really think that it can continue to be the worst state in which to do business and still attract companies that will provide employment on par with the tax revenue it wishes to collect?

Taxes

California has one of the most volatile tax bases in the country. Individuals and businesses pay some of the highest taxes in the country and are facing new ones on a consistent basis from both the legislature and the ballot box. The balance of revenue against the amount people and businesses are able to pay has been lost as evident by the number fleeing the state with each passing day which only exacerbates the situation.

Our state is in undeniable crisis. One party rule has failed our state. No person, and no party, has a lock on innovative policies. At a time when California is most in need of bold reform and creativity, our state cries out for a vibrant, articulate minority party. I urge the voters to send Sacramento a message in November by electing more minority party members to the legislature. California’s future depends on it.

Alice Khosravy is a Santa Clarita Valley resident

 

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