Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Taxin’ and Relaxin’ in the Golden State

Posted by Eric on May 28, 2009

Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times argues that the impetus of California’s cataclysmic budget woes aren’t my home state’s uptick in spending over recent years. Kevin Drum disagrees, before concluding:

California has multiple problems.  Prop 13 reduced our tax base permanently and made it all but impossible to adjust other taxes to make up for it. Citizens have approved bond measure after bond measure in the seeming belief that because they don’t raise taxes, they also don’t cost any money.  The governor and the legislature have relied on way too much smoke and mirrors.  But spending has also gone up.  There’s just no way to understand the whole picture without acknowledging that.

While spending isn’t the sole problem that many Californian conservatives would like to blame for the state’s fiscal woes, it’s also not as blameless as Hiltzik implies. Also worth mentioning is California’s outlay to tax ratio. Californians only get back 78 cents for each dollar of federal taxes, ranking it 43rd of 50 for money tossed back into the state. It’s a high income state (although also one with high cost of living), so it should be expected to pay more than your average state. With that said, when discussing California’s budgetary abyss and potential funding solutions, it’s certianly something that should be brought to the table.

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