It finally happened, as it usually does, state Democrat legislators seem to have been able to reach a few "reasonable" Republicans and get them to agree to tax increases under "certain conditions".
In a "Read my lips" moment California GOP legislators signed a State Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which set in stone their commitment to all Californians to not allow California Democrats to simply tax and spend the state into oblivion. It seems their commitment may have been scrawled in beach sand, to be washed away when the tides change.
"The reforms have to be there," said Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia.
"(We must be able) to tell constituents, 'Look, we had to raise taxes, we had to go forward, but we've fundamentally altered the way in which Sacramento is going to be budgeted – and we will not have these problems again because of it,'" Adams said.
As usual, bi-partisanship means Republicans agree with Democrats.
To put the current fiscal mess into perspective;
If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were to fire every employee in state government tomorrow, it would easily patch California's enormous deficit, right? Not even close.
But surely shutting down all state prisons would do the trick? That, too, would only get him about a quarter of the way there.
Now what if he were to close every prison and cut off funding for health care and other services for the poor? Now we're in the ballpark.
So how big is it?
Consider that $40 billion is the amount the state shells out of its general fund each year for the public school system.
Payroll for California's roughly 230,000 civil servants tallies a mere $18 billion — not including legislative aides or people who work for the state's courts or university systems. (Those 149,000 additional folks aren't under the governor's control, but even if Schwarzenegger could fire them, their salaries wouldn't be enough to patch the $40 billion deficit.)
California's shortfall is larger than the entire yearly budget of every other state except New York. It exceeds the gross domestic product of more than 100 countries, including Syria, Costa Rica and Kenya. Closer to home, it's 40 times the size of San Jose's general operating fund, which pays for most of the city's basic services. And it's a devilish 666 times the size of San Jose's projected deficit of more than $60 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
In nongovernment terms, $40 billion would buy about 78,000 houses in Santa Clara County at the November 2008 median price of $515,000. That's almost half of all of San Jose's single family homes.
It's also $3 billion more than the combined net worth of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, according to Forbes. And $40 billion could purchase more than 500 Boeing 737-800s.
In these tough times, it's hard not to want to reach some form of compromise, especially when the other side seems so convincing and reasonable. Like used car salesmen, they try to get you to buy their product even though there remains this nagging feeling something will go horribly wrong.
It would be good for the GOP to remember why they took the No Tax pledge to begin with; new taxes will destroy what's left of this economy. Changing "Tax" to "Revenue" and "Fee" doesn't change any of that.
Even our own Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark declined to speculate on a tax deal;
"The bottom line is, we want spending reforms and we want to control the growth of government," he said.
Hold the line, sir, hold the line.
It's best to remember the result of broken tax pledges and keep these words in mind;
"Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." W. Churchill
Increasing taxes makes no sense.