California’s state government has been vandalized and those responsible for the damage are not difficult to identify.
Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman wrote recently in the New York Times that while “No modern American president would repeat the fiscal mistake of 1932, in which the federal government tried to balance its budget in the face of a severe recession . . . the nation will be reeling from the actions of 50 Herbert Hoovers — state governors who are slashing spending in a time of recession, often at the expense both of their most vulnerable constituents and of the nation’s economic future.”
Of the nation’s fifty governors, Krugman singled out California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for special criticism: “Arnold Schwarzenegger, in particular, deserves some jeers. He became governor in the first place because voters were outraged over his predecessor’s budget problems, but he did nothing to secure the state’s fiscal future — and he now faces a projected budget deficit bigger than the one that did in Gray Davis.”
The cause of Cailifornia’s budget crisis is the fundamental policy assumptions of the Republican Party:
· No to government regulation of markets and the economy.
· No to taxes, even in order to fund essential government programs.
Nearly every crisis that California and the nation is now facing can be traced to Republican adherence to these principles – including our current budget gridlock, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, our exploding prison and homeless populations, our shameful neglect of children and elders, and our inequitable and dysfunctional heath care system.
Here in Southern California’s Orange County – which, while it can no longer legitimately call itself “America’s Most Republican County,” voted this November for John McCain and returned local Republicans to office despite the the havoc caused by the failed economic and social policies of the Republican Party – Republican policies are devastating local communities and crippling public schools and social services.
Especially hard hit have been Orange County’s children. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed to balance the state’s budget by cutting billions of dollars from our public schools and community colleges, resulting in thousands of teacher layoffs and severe reductions in much needed programs and services.
As Diane Grey, a teacher in the Capistrano Unified School District, said, the budget cuts have already left her with and her fellow teachers with “No copy paper. No ink cartridges for computers. No hall passes for kids to go to the bathroom. No index cards for activities/learning. No scantrons for tests. No pens. No overhead transparencies. No nothing! In other words, nothing to do our jobs!” Or as Susan Ross, a teacher from Northern California, said, “What more can we cut? Heat? Light? Water?”
The Republican economic and budget crisis has also lead to a drastic increase in homeless school children in Orange County. The latest figures from the Orange County Department of Education show that for the 2007-2008 school year there were 16,422 homeless students – a 20 percent increase from the previous school year’s total of 13,130.
Yet now comes the news that our Republican officials are expected this week to order crippling layoffs in the Orange County Social Services Agency, where Republican budget cutters are seeking to eliminate $30 million from the department that serves the region’s neediest and most vulnerable.
According to the Orange County Register, “Of the 4,218 Social Services employees, 193 vacant positions will be eliminated. Another 110 probationary employees and 100 permanent workers will be pink slipped as well, effective Jan. 19. The remaining employees may be forced to take off two weeks sans pay to balance the books. The jobs that will be hit the hardest are the ones that work directly with the disadvantaged.”
As a result, Orange County will soon cut or eliminate programs that help prevent child and senior abuse and neglect, find jobs for people on welfare, and provide child care services to working parents.
As Paul Krugman noted, the Obama administration will not be able to rescue America from recession (or worse) so long as state government – and in particular, the government of California — is still dominated by the failed policies of the Republican Party.
It’s time to end Hooverism in The Golden State.