2016 is shaping up to be an unpleasant year to be California’s governor. Or a legislator for that matter. Because the state might have to reckon with its bigger problems that year.
The Democrats’ fondness for temporary policies is at the root of the issue. Prop 30, the tax hike ballot initiative that has saved California (if you believe the national press), is actually based on temporary tax increases on sales and income. The sales tax increase expires that year. Without those revenues, the state budget – which remains stuck at austerity levels even with the Prop 30 increases – will look even worse. And things could look worse at the end of 2018, when the income tax increases expire.
Now comes the prison crisis, and the courts’ requirements that the state reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent of capacity. Gov. Brown proposes to do that by increasing bed capacity, but the change is only temporary. The additional bed capacity lasts only through the 2014-15 budget year.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office says that the state would need to find additional solutions by the 2015-16, creating more stress then. The administration says it would then offer a long-term plan in 2015.
It’s peculiar that state leadership is being credited for taking on the state problems and fixing California. Core problems are being kicked down the road.
This is understandable – since the budget and governing systems make it so difficult to do much more than delay. But state leaders should stop pretending that they’ve dealt with the state’s budget and governance problems.