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Scott Wilk: ‘State of the State’ report

Posted: January 31, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 31, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Last week Governor Jerry Brown tied Earl Warren for the number of State of the State addresses any governor has given. While that is a personal milestone that he can be proud of, the content of his vision for California is infinitely more important.

California has major challenges and I for one don’t believe in partisan games, but rather in trying to deliver results for our citizens. So when I agree with the governor on an issue I give him kudos and when we disagree I lay out the case why he is wrong.

So I thought I would review his address and give him a grade.

The governor’s general theme was the importance of fiscal responsibility, paying down debt and saving for a rainy day fund. However, the lack of attention he dedicated to growing the economy and reforming public education was concerning.

Sacramento lawmakers seem to forget that California’s net worth is negative $127.2 billion so if we don’t take paying down our debts seriously, we will continue down a treacherous road. The governor’s call for fiscal restraint must be our top priority and I join him in that fight to restrain unnecessary spending.

Regarding the state’s debt load Brown advocates allocating $11 billion in new debt repayment, to immediately repay over $6 billion in school district deferrals and to eventually pay off the “wall of debt” by 2017-18.

Fiscal Responsibility grade - A: Brown is committed to paying down the “Wall of Debt” although his wall of debt only includes short-term obligations. The state is facing about $250 billion in unfunded liabilities for public employee pensions and health care costs.

Brown keeps touting the “California Comeback” due to the surplus dollars that the state has derived this fiscal year. This surge in revenue is temporary as it stems from the higher, temporary taxes from Prop 30 and a stellar year in the stock market. Since this revenue increase won’t be sustained, Sacramento leaders need to invest more surplus dollars into the rainy day fund in order to ensure education is properly funded when another economic downturn occurs.

The only way to climb out of our fiscal hole is to grow the state’s economy. California has some of the smartest and hardest working people in the world and Sacramento needs to either lead by investing in infrastructure and setting policies that encourage private investment, or it needs to get out of the way and “cease and desist” in layering regulation upon regulation choking entrepreneurs’ dreams before they even launch.

Jobs/Economy grade - Incomplete: The governor failed to address any plans for rebooting the economy and getting Californians back to work. This year I hope he will engage the Legislature in an effort to keep the film and TV industry in Hollywood. Also, I’m very concerned about the 600,000 manufacturing jobs we’ve lost over the last decade. Small business creates two out of every three jobs and we need to be fostering a positive business climate.

Prop 30 was sold to voters as a way to save education and to get the Golden State back on track. Unfortunately, schools will only see about one third of the prop 30 dollars and the remaining funds will be diverted to the general fund to be used for non-education purposes. On the bright side, the governor’s budget projects a $9.7 billion revenue increase over the 2013, 2014 and 2015 budget years from Proposition 98.

Education grade - C: Last year we passed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which was designed to give local school districts more flexibility and more money into the classroom. But any time you pass a major reform, there is a need to clean up mistakes, and school districts are already discovering glitches. But the governor didn’t acknowledge that or about efforts to implement the upcoming Common Core curriculum that is scheduled to be in classes beginning in the 2015-16 academic school year.

The High Speed Rail Project (HSRP) has been a disaster from the beginning and I’m frustrated that the governor continues to support this boondoggle. The initiative the voters approved in 2008 required the funding for the project be identified. That has never happened and the courts had to step in to admonish Brown and temporarily stopped the project in its tracks. The governor calls for taking $300 million from the “Cap and Trade” account and applying it to the rail project. I believe this is in violation of both AB 32 (2006) and Prop 1A, which established the bullet train project.

Bullet Train grade - F: I’ve never quoted Ozzy Osborne before, but when it comes to Brown and the High Speed Rail Project it is “All abroad the crazy train.” Brown is obstinate about pursuing this colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. I’m hopeful the courts and policymakers in Washington will kill it.

Overall I give Governor Brown a respectable B- for his State of the State address. I will work with him on his efforts to set proper spending priorities and pay down debt. And I’ll continue to prod him to engage in helping small business owners and key industries so we really can have a “California Comeback.”

Scott Wilk is the Assemblymember from the 38th District.



ricketzz: Posted: January 31, 2014 5:40 a.m.

Jet airplanes are very bad for the atmosphere; we need trains.

BrianBaker: Posted: January 31, 2014 6:05 a.m.

Trains aren't very good at crossing oceans.

But hey! Maybe we can roll back the clock to 1840, or something. How's that suit you, ricketzz?

TruthSquad: Posted: January 31, 2014 6:47 a.m.

I found the piece informative, but I think Wilk is being too nice toward the Governor. Keep up the fight to hold the line on spending!

emheilbrun: Posted: January 31, 2014 7:00 a.m.

Cars are very bad for the atmosphere. We need more transit options WITHIN our metro areas, NOT between.

OldReliable: Posted: January 31, 2014 7:14 a.m.

Cars and jets are cool!

technologist: Posted: January 31, 2014 7:54 a.m.

Forget trains. We need horses and buggys so we can return to scenic city streets like this:

Everyday disease and pandemics were the good old days.

peoplesvoice: Posted: January 31, 2014 8:47 a.m.

Glad to see Wilk is standing strong against the ludicrous government spending habits! We have trains locally already to get us around LA, SFV, San Diego etc. Nobody is going to pay big bucks to ride a train to San Fran when a flight is 3 times faster and the same price! We need to stop the high speed rail and either give the tax payers back their money or use the funds to pay off our debt!

scvsoccermom82: Posted: January 31, 2014 9:14 a.m.

This is similar to the review I'd give the Governor. Glad to know Wilk is in tune with the people!

listenup: Posted: January 31, 2014 9:32 a.m.

Good point scvsoccermom82. I agree. Keep at it Wilk.

projalice11: Posted: February 1, 2014 9:18 a.m.

Per Mr. Wilk:

"I will work with the Governor on his efforts to set proper spending priorities and pay down debt. And I’ll continue to prod him to engage in helping small business owners and key industries so we really can have a “California Comeback.”

A Great way to end a LTE on a positive note.
Good luck to you Mr. Wilk in your endeavors to bring back Calif. to it's

Indy: Posted: February 1, 2014 1:22 p.m.

Wilk: The only way to climb out of our fiscal hole is to grow the state’s economy.

Indy: Indeed we need to find a solution to ‘growth’ that is ‘sustainable.

Today neither party will address this. They instead rely on recitals of folklore, religion, ideology and patriotism none of which address the resources we have ahead of us.

Likewise, no politician will address the population issue which gets back to the resource issue where more people with fewer resources see everyone getting poorer everything else being equal.

We actually ‘see’ this issue today in the minimum wage debate. As there exists a oversupply of labor, employers continue to bid down the wage rates to the minimum wage. And since the minimum wage hasn’t kept pace with inflation, people earning that wage are now holding the burden of the oversupply of labor while businesses and ‘owners of capital’ (think stockholders) are concentrating wealth as a result.

Today, using the same ‘growth’ policies that republicans support like tax cuts to upper income earners, only seeks to concentrate wealth even more!

I don’t expect Wilk per se to even perhaps understand what I wrote since it’s become impossible for politicians to go against their party’s respective ideology talking points. But make no mistake we’re way past the 19th century solutions for economic growth . . . including the issue of globalization that is now exposing American workers to several billion people that earn about $1 a day . . .

A good read on this was written over a decade ago by Lester Thurow, the former head of the Sloan School of Business at MIT, who’s an economist and wrote: The Future of Capitalism.

Finally, the basic premise of economics is scarcity and sadly politicians ignore this and continue to address low information voters with pro-growth speeches that don’t map to the modern world we live in.

In conclusion, without any reference to the ‘demands’ people make on their government, the ‘pro-growth’ rectial sadly indicates that Wilk really can’t understand the budgeting dilemmas before us and thus resorts again to this type of rhetoric.

We need to elect people that understand economics, business, ecology, management and budgeting or risk further problems with government services that will be cut back or have their performance reduced like we see in k-12 that has been dropping out more than 1 student in 4 for 30+ years . . . all the while ‘every’ politician was 110% behind quality education.

Citing intentions as Wilk did without any linkage to the economic realities, isn’t helping us . . .

technologist: Posted: February 1, 2014 5:49 p.m.

"They instead rely on recitals…"

Speaking of recitals, thanks for the rerun, Indy. Don't you wish it could be considered intellectual property so you could earn residuals?

ricketzz: Posted: February 3, 2014 6:01 a.m.

Boeing and Southwest Airlines are lobbying hard against rail; I wonder why?
You can belittle me all you like; airplanes do more harm than newer cars per passenger mile.

We will need to figure out a way to stop people from wasting energy and carbon; the accepted method in this country is to tax something that you want less of, so let's double the tax on fuel, (businesses can get a credit for a few years).

Indy: Posted: February 3, 2014 8:09 a.m.

ricketzz wrote: We will need to figure out a way to stop people from wasting energy and carbon; the accepted method in this country is to tax something that you want less of, so let's double the tax on fuel, (businesses can get a credit for a few years).

Indy: I write about this issue all the time when I reference ‘sustainable growth’ that would address the factors of resources including energy.But from what I can see from your post, you seem to know the ‘catch phrases’ but none of the back story or solutions.And since you’ve noted before that any post over a paragraph or so you just stop rea . . .

technologist: Posted: February 3, 2014 2:28 p.m.

…ding as you realize it's just a cut and paste of the lugubrious nonsense that's been posted previously.

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