On Tuesday voters in California went the wrong way on three propositions.
- Voters approved Proposition 30 “temporarily” increasing the state sales tax and income tax on individuals making over $250,000.
- They voted against Proposition 31 that would allow the governor to cut the budget in fiscal emergencies.
- They voted against Proposition 32 that would prevent unions from making campaign donations via members’ dues.
Moreover, and worse yet, Democrats picked up two more votes in the state legislature giving them a supermajority, capable of passing any tax hikes they want.
Those results are so awful I suggest you prepare for the demise of California.
Indeed California’s Liberal Supermajority is about to run the state into the ground and taxpayers are going to get all the government they ever wanted.
The main check on Sacramento excess has been a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority of both houses to raise taxes. Although Republicans have been in the minority for four decades, they could impose a modicum of spending restraint by blocking tax increases. If Democratic leads stick in two races where ballots are still being counted, liberals will pick up enough seats to secure a supermajority. Governor Jerry Brown then will be the only chaperone for the Liberals Gone Wild video that is Sacramento.
The high Democratic turnout in moderate and right-leaning districts helped the party pick up three seats in the senate and four in the assembly.
So now Californians will experience the joys of one-party, union-run progressive governance. Mr. Brown is urging lawmakers to demonstrate frugality and the “prudence of Joseph.” As he said the other day, “we’ve got to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don’t go on any spending binges.” That’s what all Governors say. Trouble is, merely paying the state’s delinquent bills will require tens of billions in additional revenues if lawmakers don’t undertake fiscal reforms.
With no GOP restraint, liberals can now raise taxes to pay for all this. [$200 billion in unfunded liabilities, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System in need of $10 billion annually for the next 30 years to amortize its debt, $73 billion in outstanding bonds for capital projects and $33 billion in voter-authorized bonds, etc.]
They’ll probably start by repealing Proposition 13’s tax cap for commercial property. Democrats in the Assembly held hearings on the idea this spring. Then they’ll try to make it easier for cities to raise taxes.
The greens want an oil severance tax. Other Democrats want to extend the sales tax to services, supposedly in return for a lower rate, but don’t expect any “reform” to be revenue neutral. Look for huge union pay raises and higher pension benefits.
The silver lining here is that Americans will be able to see the modern liberal-union state in all its raw ambition. The Sacramento political class thinks it can tax and regulate the private economy endlessly without consequence. As a political experiment it all should be instructive, and at least Californians can still escape to Nevada or Idaho.
Law of the Funnel in Action
Big government and absurdly strong unions destroyed Greece and Spain. Expect no less for California.
Many large California corporations that can flee, will flee. Those stuck in California will see massive tax hikes (with many more to come) just so public unions and administrators can collect absurdly high salaries and benefits that most citizens can only dream about.
Please see the Law of the Funnel for a description as to what just happened.
About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.