Rosy Projections is a powerful player in state government but when I asked around the Capitol for directions to her office no one could help me. And I couldn’t find a listing for Ms. Projections in any of the political directories in Sacramento either.
Still we know Rosy exists because her fingerprints are all over the state budget.
Let’s see the budget agreement includes the expectation that the federal government — out of the goodness of its heart — will chip in $5.3 billion dollars to shore up Californians’ profligate spending. Certainly that is proof of Rosy’s influence. And then there are the estimates of future revenue that would only be believed by someone who had just put their life savings into Florida swampland. Surely Rosy had a hand in this too.
Another player in the budget process is the famous — but never photographed — S. Pecial Deals. Mr. Deals like his cousin Rosy always seems to surface at budget time. His “tour de farce” was of course the arrangement in 2009 whereby Abel Maldonado demanded that an “open primary” system be placed on the ballot in exchange for his vote on the budget. This payment had nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with advancing his own political career. Mr. Deals is still smiling over that one.
This year Mr. Deals wasn’t quite so prominent but he was still around. On display were special carve-outs for a couple of redevelopment agencies — one so it could help finance a major league sports arena — and an ethanol firm (which simply can’t seem to make a profit without government help). But quite frankly everyone was so relieved to finally get a budget that these relatively minor instances of soft corruption could be ignored.
Despite the influence of Rosy Projections and S. Pecial Deals for taxpayers this was a better budget than we’ve seen in the past. It is certainly better than the budget deal of 2009 which gave us a $12 billion tax increase and would have given us another $16 billion in higher taxes but for the rejection of Prop 1A in May of 2009.
The contention that there are no tax increases in this budget is at best a half truth. There is in fact a delay in a tax break for certain businesses having to do with “net operating losses.” Technically this is a tax increase for purposes of Prop 13 and thus requires a two-thirds vote. However from the perspective of ordinary Californians (the people usually ignored in Sacramento) there were no broad-based tax increases.
For that we are thankful to both the fiscal conservatives in the Legislature who refused to budge and to a re-energized player on the California political scene I.M. Angry Taxpayer. Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer were very prominent 30 years ago when bypassing the Legislature and the budget process altogether they passed Proposition 13. The political establishment had assumed that Mr. & Mrs. Angry Taxpayer had retired. But as noted above they came out of retirement in May of 2009 to send a huge signal to the political elites with the 2 to 1 trashing of Prop 1A.
I.M. Angry Taxpayer is now rejuvenated — having attended several Tea Party events — and learning that there are millions more like him. He and his compatriots are a big reason why the Governor and Legislature knew that tax increases were a non-starter for the budget just enacted.
Make no mistake; this is still a bad out-of-balance budget full of accounting gimmicks. But amazingly fiscal conservatives find themselves in agreement with the Los Angeles Times when it said “the state budget plan is far from perfect but it’s doubtful that a better deal could have been produced under the circumstances.”
If that’s not damning with faint praise nothing is.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.