Fixing California: Illegal immigrants, mountain dwellers and Prop. 13
Taxing people who live in brush fire zones. Targeting illegal immigrants. Adding a 1% income tax. We asked you how to fix California, and readers have offered many different ideas. Below is a sampling of responses to Times columnist Michael Hiltzik's call for budget solutions (Michael will have some more thoughts on the subject soon). In the meantime, The Times has a new way to look at California's budget crisis. It's an interactive tool that allows users to balance the budget in a few key strokes. Cut spending, raise taxes and/or borrow to get the state out of the red. For each choice -- drawn from proposals from across the political spectrum -- we’ve tried to give some sense of the effects. As you craft your proposal, the Deficit Meter will show your progress. Check out The Times' Budget Balancer here.
Taxing people who use more services: "There are thousands of people who want to live in the forest and then call for fire protection, tax them! People who cause traffic accidents which clearly are caused by their ignoring driving conditions and laws, tax them! The time has come when bad people -- aka irresponsible and plain thought to all other people around -- should be charged for their bad behavior. The time has when good people should stand up and say enough is enough, we no longer want to foot the bill." -- Thomas
Repeal Proposition 13: "It subsidizes people who have owned property for a long time at the expense of newer/often younger property owners, distorts commercial and residential land uses (i.e. crummy commercial uses on nice streets that sit there forever), and most of all starves the state of much needed cash." -- Stefan
Focus on illegal Immigrants: "I think that we need to take a real close look at illegals who may be accessing social service programs with fraudulent documentation verifying their citizenship. I think the number, especially in cities like L.A., is potentially huge. It's like peeling away layers of an onion. You start with the easiest and outermost layer first." -- Praetorian
Cut spending: "Absolutely a spending problem. Economic downturns bring lower revenue for governments, I am surprised our elected officials seem to miss these basic facts. Tax increases never net increased revenue in times like this. Duh. We have done this before, how quickly we forget?" -- Joe
1% tax: "Here's a solution: tax everyone in CA 1% of their worth. The state would be out of this jam in a jiffy. And still have a lot of money to spend, spend, spend...." -- Richard
Read more responses here. And what do you think? We want to hear from you.
-- Shelby Grad
Here are recent articles about California's budget problems:
Wanted: Profiles in Courage (June 1, 2009)
California's problem is spending? That's a myth (May 28, 2009)
A state trapped by fiscal inertia (May 24, 2009)
Schwarzenegger missed his golden opportunity to give Californians the truth (May 21, 2009)
Opinion: State of denial (March 3, 2009)