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Fixing California: Illegal immigrants, mountain dwellers and Prop. 13

Budget balancer

Fixing california 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:

California has a golden opportunity to return to local control (June 4, 2009)

If it's good for baseball, maybe it's good for the budget debate (June 1, 2009)

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)

Comments () | Archives (132)

Cocaine cowboys. The bad guys did all the work, had a major shoot out with the cia and fbi and the us took control of all
the cocaine and the money, and took the US out of a
recession, they called that Reganomics. He was from
California. The money taken from the Cocaine Busts rebuilt
Miami, and the cocaine was sold overseas. the Gov. did
pretty good with all the Coke.

It's California's turn. The answer is staring you in the face,
time to stop treating the plant like it's the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, and start seeing it as the tree of life.

It's that simple. It would create jobs, keep the migrant workers very happy, the growers happier, the state would
run on a surplus......what's not to like??

It's rediculous that it's not even an option. Because....
people will continue to grow it, sell it, and smoke it....
you need advisors on this....just ask Cheech and Chong.

SAVE PROP 13 at all costs. everyone seems to be thinking about prop 13 as just protecting the homeowners that got in before 1978 not having to pay full tax on their houses. most of the people that are in a prop 13 house are Seniors and removing those houses from being exempt would be a very small increase in taxes but..

prop 13 requires 2/3 vote to raise a tax. repealing it to collect the property tax opens us all up on increased taxes on everything else. we are in this huge mess primarily due to wasteful spending and mandated spending. last night on Jon Stewart they did a skit which actually would be a great idea.

Prop 13 must be repealed for a serious consideration of balancing the CA budget. Make exception for some of the oldest seniors, but I believe that if you can't afford the tax, you should move to a smaller house or condo.

Add more gasoline tax. $0.75 or higher. Seriously, just for a year. It will clear up the freeway and fix the budget at the same time, not to mention the improved air quality. Use extra money to make more freeways or fix existing freeway. Remember we used to pay $4.50? We are at $3.00 now. People may not like it, but they will pay.

1. The only people who are in favor of new taxes are those who won't be affected by them.

2. Stop with the 'legalize pot' angle already. No, it won't solve any budget problems and no, nobody really believes you want anything other than to get high.

1. Let's build the Air Car and Solar fans.

2. No summer school and 3 day school days.
2 day homework package to keep them off the streets.

3. No Community Programs. including food programs.

4. Tax Cigarettes , Alchiol, and all Freeways become Toll-roads.

5. No Government Official to receive a pay over 80K including Judges and state Doctors.


9. Close all Libraries in the summer. Open only 2 days regular year.

10. Charge a fee to cross any State line. More for Mexico.

11. Legalize Marijuana

12. cities with population under 80K work 20 days a week. No one has pay over 30K.

13. Cut Policemen hours and use United States Reserves.
(Never cut medical or disability and always support our elderly.)

what we need is a fresh start, recall all of them ! we hired them, we can fire them. really we are in charge, we proved it with grey
davis !

The bipartisan LAO (Legislative Analyst's Office) said that, if Arnold had obeyed the law and raised the VLF (Vehicle License Fee - what you pay DMV for your registration tags) back up to the state Constitutionally-mandated 3.5% (after Gray Davis had temporarily lowered it), we would now have a SURPLUS! Instead, we have a Nazi union-buster. Raising the VLF back to where it belongs is the short-term fix. The long-term fix is to repeal the commercial (not the residential) side of Prop. 13. Now when companies pass on their firms to their kids the kids are exempt from property tax reassessment

for starter, they should increase taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and oil drilling and on the riches. That should be number 1 on their list, mainly tobacco, cuz that'll stop people from smoking and polluting MY AIR!!! we shouldn't cut much from education and health because those are important for the future as well as now. By raising taxes on non-essentials, i got it so that California is out of dept and have a little extra!

i am biased in my suggestion to legalize, regulate, and tax properly documented and accurately labeled marijuana. i am biased as an American citizen who wants the principles of our Constitution upheld and our freedom to choose marijuana given back to us. i know it won't solve California's budget issues but it will help and if the state gov actually grew and distributed it themselves (i know i know, yeah right) it would produce much more revenue for the state then just taxing it and would give the state gov more control over its production and distribution.

i don't advocate driving under the influence of marijuana but i don't consider having THC in your system being under the influence either. do some research and figure out an acceptable level of THC that isn't too low or too high and then require anyone who fails a roadside test to submit to a blood test. if we can be trusted with something proved to be as dangerous as alcohol then why the hell can't we be trusted with marijuana which is statistically and scientifically being proved again again to not be nearly as dangerous as alcohol? more evidence is coming out of actual benefits to the properties of the cannabinoids found in marijuana.

California can be the first American state to prove to the world that actually legalizing and regulating properly documented and accurately labeled marijuana will in fact benefit our society. marijuana will be legalized, now is the time, do it correctly and allow room to adjust the laws as needed and then finally reap the benefits.

as far as the rest of the budget, well i can't say i know much about budget balancing or state spending reform, i just know i want marijuana, i want the freedom to use it responsibly, and California is the best place to start, especially now. i also like most of Schwarzenegger's movies, i can't really think of any that i don't like but there is probably one out there i'm forgetting.

"give these people air" ~Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall, 1990

I would really like a solar car and solar roof fan for my home.

Let's create jobs!

Some of the cuts are good, but almost 1/3 of budget goes to social services, why is there not more there to cut? And versus taxes, how about some new revenue sources? For example legalize casino gambling everywhere -sorry Indians. Just the applications from that would go a long way towards balancing the budget. Then also how aobut legalizing prostitution? Charge a brothel licesnsing fee, an admission tax/ Both of these would actually make it safer for both players and providers, and Billions of dolars of income that aren't taxed now would be. Asian tourism alone for legal prostitution woudl probably balance the budget.

If you are going to give us a chance at balancing the budget here in California put up all the realistic areas and their funding. The four choices available in your survey are biased. Let us have a crack at cleaning up the whole mess. Ken and John at KFI should join in too! In ten minutes on their radio show they had it all done.

Is anyone else amazed that the LA Times would make a stupid "simulator" that allows you to cut every program and still have a deficit? How rigged is that? Everyone here that mentions unlisted options has things correct: they don't want us to realize just HOW MUCH waste there really is. The fact that illegal immigrants are considered a non-factor (other than turning over those in the penal system), should be an eye opener.

Furthermore, those of you who advocate for different kinds of taxes - you are SO short sighted. Gas taxes add to the costs of other goods and services: businesses have to pay those taxes, and it takes away from their bottom line. Income taxes - reduces the buying power of ALL CONSUMERS (will destroy jobs and send businesses out of state or overseas). Property taxes will create a defacto decrease in property values - get ready for the REAL decline in home values. Alcohol and tobacco taxes are a tax on the poor - the increases have a greater effect on their salaries than it does the upper middle class (the same goes for gasoline).

I know we need government - but this little simulator would have you believe that you can never cut government to shore up a deficit. Absolute malarky.

I like how most of the things people have mentioned as solutions to the California Budget Crisis has already been blocked by the Federal Government. That or they aren't willing just to eliminate problems by death. Nothing is ever free.

Education is one of the biggest drains. Yet at the same time we don't have any factories because no one wants to work in them. Face it, how many people here make jeans? It all got outsourced because people didn't like the wages. People want more and more. Time to start cutting back.

I'm sadden that people have to cut some charitable cause. But hey, this is government and not individuals. They have to prioritize. Now or future. The governor has taken What I believe is the right choice and attempt to save the future with present pains. Sure the problem can arise again, but it would be a result from more poor spending. Only government touched agencies can run into budget problems and exist for extended periods of time. Sooner or later, the piper must be paid or everyone will get it in spades.

Only people who own nothing want to kill Prop 13. Usually seems to be the same ones who to legalize pot.

Is there a correlation there?

I arrived at a decent Budget Balance using the options available, but I would exchange the "Teacher Retirement" with equivalent "State Employees Cuts" (not available) for the least productive employees, including policemen and detectives (absolutely needed).

Take a look: Deficit: -$25Mil, Cuts: $9.435Mil, Taxes: $14.59Mil

CalGrants, K-14 Funds, In Home Workers, In Home Service Fraud, Healthy Families, Medical Eligibility, Medical Fraud, Illegal Immigrants, Early Release, Lower-level offenders, Parole, Transportation Funds, Teacher Retirement, Health Benefits, Legislature, Offshore Drilling, Eliminate Boards, Furloughs (3rd)

NEW TAXES (There is no way to balance without them):
High Earners, Cigarettes, Broaden Sales Tax, Alcohol, Gasoline, Oil Severance

This would of course increase the cost of living and generate inflation, but that's what naturally happens in a recession, and would allow the State to keep going while the economy heals itself.

We should also enforece the borders to keep illegals from coming in. Even though they in fact pay for some taxes, they usually do not pay for Federal and State Taxes, and force us to spend on healthcare assistance. Humanitarian emergency healthcare services MUST be rendered though.

I was able to cut the budget down to approx. $5 Billion.

Its a tough time and we really need
to cut back as much as possible in this state, even if it means sacrificing certain programs. For now at least, things may change in the future, but if we don't make drastic cuts now
our beautiful state could be permanently damaged.
People need to tighten the belt, and conserve/ration for
our future, the legislation especially.
The most important government services we need at this time are public safety, "emergency" health care and education. we can do away with welfare -to-work, paying women to sit home and have kids has cost this state for many many years. I do not support welfare to work. They need to have tougher qualifications and not be so "relaxed" in dishing out food stamps, money and care to people who are able to work but do not want to because its too easy to sit home and collect a check... its time to stop! Only the elderly, the disabled and very poor should be given welfare....and the very poor should only receive for a limited time. Instead of handing out money to these people, the Government should put them to work building our roads and infrastructures.

Why can't we repeal prop 13 the whole way?


They brag how they will rip you off in: THE PROTOCOLS...so, if you have not read THE PROTOCOLS...you deserve to be ripped off....

In THE PROTOCOLS...they also tell you how to protect yourself [and] your property/wealth....

We can tell you how NOT to be ripped off in this well planned collapse - you need to act fast, or you will be ripped off....


Options not offered on the Budget Fix Quiz:
1) Raise the gas tax to at least 50 cents if not higher.
2) Higher taxes & more tax brackets on highest income.
3) Eliminate capital gains tax breaks.
4) I also like a suggestion made elsewhere to close most of the DMV offices, making people wait far longer at the remaining offices, the point being to cause to everyone.
5) Charge more for water to the factory farms which use most of the water in Calif. We're in a drought!
6) Increase port fees.
7) Increase alcohol tax more.
8) If the quiz could allow for input of variable amounts on appropriate categories (gas tax, sales tax, cigs & alcohol) it might be more real-world.

Should have all programs, departments, commissions. That way citizens can see everything we are paying for. We also need to be able to be more creative about fees to cut / add.
I was able to get to a $3B surplus - I think almost everyone in california can except for the legislature because they won't accept a viable mix of cuts and revenue.

Eliminate all services including education to illegal aliens and their kids. We are a sovereign state and the Federal government cannot force us to provide for people who have invaded our country. End all benefits to legal immigrants who are not citizens. Current immigration laws state these people must have a sponsor who will be responsible for them should they not be able to afford what they need such as medical care. These are good laws put in place to protect American citizens and keep the burden of supporting immigrants from falling on the shoulders of tax paying citizens. That saves $5 billion a year at the very least. Many say the cost is closer to $11 billion a year which is probably true. The government has no idea what it spends, where the money goes, who gets it or how many illegal invaders are in this country so I don't trust their numbers. Then move to general welfare. There's so much fraud here that most of the benefits should be stopped. Also, let parents feed their own kids and stop free school breakfast, lunch and school snacks. Cut all the extras in schools and get back to giving a quality education to OUR children, not illegal aliens! We either get serious about protecting our State and nation and saving our hard earned money or it will soon be far too late.

Um, there won't be ANY new taxes. The legislature won't pass them, the public doesn't want them and the Governor won't sign them.


I had no trouble balancing the budget without personal income or sales tax increases, though it certainly will be tough to do without raising sin taxes, gas taxes and corporate taxes. But those are the types of taxes that also have positive behavioral effects that will reduce medical and environmental costs.

What is wholly lacking in the options are deep cuts to state government - elimination of entire departments, 10% across-the-board employee cuts, shut down of certain agencies for 1/2 year (i.e. DMV), immediate parole of all non-violent drug offenders, etc. Puzzling why these aren't included - maybe it would eliminate the tax hikes supported by this paper.

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