One-party rule in California is backfiring

According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, California will lose at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 Census.

This is because the total number of representatives is fixed at 435 and allocated to population. This zero-sum game means that states with decreasing or static population will lose, and states with growing population will win. Since statehood in 1850, California has consistently gained representation in Congress because it was the land of boundless opportunity and promise. Now, not so much.

So why are Californians leaving the formerly Golden State for states such as Texas, which is projected to pick up three house seats?

The reasons are many and complex: Cost of living, crime, homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, burdensome regulations and high taxes. Add to that gross mismanagement of the pandemic response, failure to manage our forests leading to catastrophic fires and green policies that caused a shortage of electricity and rolling blackouts.

All these ills can be traced to a single cause: One-party rule.

Three recent events reveal this in stark terms.

First is the partisan decision to award a $35 million contract for a public relations campaign to “encourage voting” to a firm which works exclusively for Democratic causes and candidates. The contract was not awarded on a “low bid” basis but on subjective criteria that almost begs for a corrupt outcome. The “winning” public relations firm, SKD Knickerbocker, has close ties to former Vice President Joe Biden and is known for its work pushing progressive causes.

Just imagine if President Trump spent $35 million of public funds to hire Karl Rove’s firm to “encourage voting” in the November election. Mainstream media would have a meltdown.

Second on the list is the warning issued by California’s non-partisan state auditor, Elaine Howle, to Gov. Gavin Newsom about her serious doubts about the California’s disbursement of $17 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. Specifically, Howle has identified 18 state bureaucracies as “high risk” for potential waste, fraud or abuse.

The question that taxpayers have is why would the state auditor have this concern if it were not for the abject failure of both the executive branch and the legislative branch to conduct serious oversight about how public dollars are spent? The answer is that, with one-party rule, there is no serious oversight.

Third, last week longtime columnist, Dan Walters, reminded us about the lack of transparency in so-called “trailer bills.” 2010 was the year when the budget process was corrupted by the passage of Proposition 25, ironically titled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010.”

Voters were told three things about Prop. 25: First, budgets would now be passed on time; second, the budget process would be transparent; and third, legislators would forfeit their pay if the budget was not passed on time. All three were lies.

Moreover, because the primary goal of Prop. 25 was to reduce the vote threshold for passage of the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority, it deprives the minority party of any meaningful input.

After identifying several bills under consideration, Walters notes, “In practice, so-called ‘trailer bills’ have become vehicles to semi-secretly do things that might otherwise be difficult to do, often with little or no relationship to the budget.”

Transparency in the budgeting process is thus another victim of one-party rule in California. This concentrated power in one party without any meaningful check has perverted our political institutions in ways that will prove difficult to reverse until voters take action.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.