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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)

As a former teacher, I always saw a great deal of waste and top heavy management in local school district offices. You have superintendent, assist. super, staff, secretaries, budget people, curriculum specialists and on it goes to the tune of millions and millions of dollars especially in the large district. Centralize one single state office. Standardize teaching salaries by creating 'state teachers' rather than leave it to local districts. Rural districts would be able to attract quality teachers, new teachers might take up the inner city where energy levels need to be high. Teachers could move throughout the state without losing step levels on the salary schedule. I don't know how many district offices there are but I bet there are too many. Why not at least do a cost analysis?

Most readers are too young to remember why we needed Prop. 13 - the government was literally taxing people out of their houses. California voters have repeatedly told the legislature to live within their means. We used to have the Gann amendment, which the state employee labor unions hated because it got in their way to pay raises. Now that is repealed, and we are in a mess because of these out of control costs. Duh! We need to cut teacher's salaries, cut prison guards salaries, get expensive benefits that go to illegals off of the books and make California a nice place to live again. You can't just keep raising taxes, companies and jobs are leaving.

I balanced it without new taxes. Interestingly, alot of the waste in Govt wasn't listed like all the "Boards", Cal-EPA, Cal - OSHA - these are duplicates of the Fed - get rid of this junk!
This "try tto balance the budget" was rigged by the LA Times and didn't tell all the story.

I really have a hard time believing that the options given are the only options to balance the budget.

Mish from Global Economic Trend Analysis shows how easy it is:


Cut everything. NO more extras. Start putting money into savings for a rainy day and make people pay for their own medical expenses.

The less government the better. Repeal every law put into effect for the last 20 years. Put to death all the death row inmates that are sucking off the $$$'s for their upkeep.

Deport everyone who is here illegally because they are all criminals.

i had a surplus of 100 million , cut alot of health benefits and k-14 education and got a surpuls. this activity is not fare, you can cut service by 20% and still get the same. this activity only calls for elimination not cuts

Why not cut salaries, like many taxpayers are facing?

I was once in the working force, but lost my job at MTA. It took me 2 years to even go and apply for public assistence, to prideful. It angers me when people assume that people receiving aid just want to. I want a job, I need a job. $723, is nothing, however I am thankful for it. I paid taxes,and so now some of that money belongs to me. I enrolled in school before my case was even approved. Now to be told that I may loss all that I am working towards is horrible. I have been looking for a job, with no luck. So why Mr. Govenor are you hurting those of us who are trying? Yes, relaese inmates. Or better yet, place them on house arrest. Make them pay for the monitor,but allow them to work. That would generate some income to the state. Stop over paying all these council members. There are ways. I don't know much, but I figured it out. And I actually did have to raise taxes, but there was a benifit.


Bam. 13 billion dollars saved per year, just like that. Easy huh?

1)Stop giving benifits to non legal persons
2) Saperate prisoners legal and illegal. Perhaps house them overseas such as Netherlands where they have more prisons than they need and are thinking of closeing some
3)Taxe tobacco alcoholic beverage,luxury items.
4)Start State run Monoplies I.E. matches,salt, small items

There are 3 areas the state should look into. 1) stop all form of welfare . welfare should have been stopped 20 years ago. For example a woman at work told her boss to cut her hours at work because it would affect her welfare and she has 3 kids and now she is having one more the taxpayer will pay to raise ,maybe someday she might even marry. 2) Allow hospitals to refuse service to illegals for any reason . This costs california over $500 million a year no wonder medical costs are so high, also require workers for other countries to have full medical insurance to work. Also charge a fee for non U.S. Citizens to put their child in public schools k-8th $8500 paid in full before child can attend and non-refundable.3) Arrest and fine illegals . Also maybe charge a tax on any import this taxe will go into the unemployment fund for U.S. workers that are not out of work because companies moved to other countries.

Privatize Cal Trans - $24 billion - DONE

OR Privatize half of Cal Trans for $12 billion AND
cut ALL funding/spending and money for illegals.

total: $24 billion - Easy. Education and welfare in tact.

Tax restructuring …

I would suggest the lowering of State income tax.

I also suggest a permanent increase in the State Sales tax on all products purchased and services provided. Raise the sales tax to 5% of the products purchase or the services provided.

I would suggest a lowering of all registration fees for automobiles, trucks, boats and other items registered to the State of California.

I would suggest a lowering of Corporate taxes with additional incentives to increase the work force for a corporation.

Proposed California Proposition: California Budget Process

Whereas: The California Budget is not completed by the current established deadline.
Whereas: The delay, of the completion of the California Budget affects the other
California Governances.
Whereas: The delay affects the operation of the State of California.

Therefore, may it now be resolved, that the salaries, and any other allowances, to the members of the California State Legislative Bodies …. California Senate and California Assembly … will be decreased, by an appropriate amount, relating to the number of days that the budget has not been completed and passed.

Furthermore … if at any time, during the budget year, the budget leads to the threat of closure of state services or the closure of any state services, or the forfeiture of monies to other California state governances, then the budget process must begin again and the salaries and allowances of members of the above Legislative Bodies will be decreased using the above calculation.

Furthermore … if there is any loss of income to the members of the California Legislature, that loss will never be made up or recouped via any other budget process or Proposition or legislative process, or signatures of an elected or unelected officials or their offices, in the future.

I would like to see a change to the following section of our state constitution.

SECTION 1. Proposed Changes in red

(a) The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed Two percent (2%) of the full cash value of such property. The Two percent (2%) tax to be collected by the counties and apportioned according to law to the districts within the counties.

Section 2. Proposed Changes in red …

(b) The full cash value base may reflect from year to year the
inflationary rate not to exceed four (4) percent for any given year or
reduction as shown in the consumer price index or comparable data for
the area under taxing jurisdiction, or may be reduced to reflect
substantial damage, destruction, or other factors causing a decline
in value.

K-14 Funds, Cut $1.5 billion (if Fed funds of $1.1 billion come through so long as other states get relative stimulus funding) Imprisoned Illegal Immigrants Deport, Early Release Lower-level offenders, Furloughs (3rd)

NEW TAXES (There is no way to balance without them):
Marijuana (legalize it, don't criticize it) Cigarettes, Broaden Sales Tax, Alcohol, Gasoline, Oil Severance

In my plan, I was able to reduce the deficit to a mere $10 million without cutting education or human services.

How did I do it? SALES TAXES.

Without getting into the emotions of the debate concerning illegal immigration, the fact is that our budget deficit has to be solved by a method that I myself believed was "regressive" in the 1960's. That method is raising every sales tax I can get my hands on.

In my model, I raises taxes on gasoline, alcohol, oil, cigarettes, and general sales.

That hurt's the middle class and poor, right? WRONG! It would have in the 60's through 80's but not now.

Now, although we will pay more, such a FLOOD OF NEW MONEY will come into Sacramento as to solve our budget problems and relieve the pressure on us for our income tax from people who do not support the government now.

How is that possible?

It is because there is a huge illegal immigrant population of workers who are working "off the books" and getting paid "under the table."

They pay no INCOME taxes but they CAN'T AVOID PAYING SALES TAXES.

Yet, almost the sole source of funding for the state budget is THE INCOME TAX.

However, all people in this state, regardless of immigration status, use police services, fire services, emergency services, schools, etc. In simple terms, almost everything that the government runs constitutes expenditures for all Californians, regardless of legal status.

Like I said, I don't want to get involved in the debate concerning illegal immigration per se. However, the only way that we can get this population to CONTRIBUTE to the revenues is through sales TAXES.

Everyone reading this should share this new way of looking at things with your friends and contact your state legislators.

However, I warn you. You will receive opposition from the Republicans, who don't want anything to upset the cheap labors that their contributors are paying under the table (my plan would cut down on the money being sent back across the border) and the Democrats will consider it "politcally incorrect."

Yet, we are doing all the paying for the government. In fact, I am in favor of changing the constitution to allow a tax on food.

Believe me. We will all be a lot better off in the long run.

One word--Nadya Suleman. Paid her disability for plastic surgery and fertility treatmants. California picks up the tab for sextuplets. No wonder you guys are broke.

!. Stop giving more to leaches than tax paying citizens. The court system is full of illegals. The highways are crowed with them. Cut all money to them. Get them out of our neighborhoods, where it takes 5-6 illegals packed in a house to pay the rent, but they can all drive new trucks.

2. Stop paying to put peoples children in jail for marijuana. Stop paying police and a court system to deal win a harmless pastime.

3. Legalize the use of marijuana. Of course, the drug companies would object because they want you on blood pressure medicine, anti-anxiety medication and Viagra. I simple natural cure is too easy, low cost and effective. Let's make money for education with it and teach the children how to live in peace and good health.

I too balanced the budget with the choices I was given. Clearly, some other choices not listed should be considered. Raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses will only increase the outflow to other states--especially Texas!! We do not need to drill for more oil, we need to encourage (force?) less fuel consumption.
Now for glaring problems:
1. To Mexico, the GIG IS UP! We the people of the US can no longer afford to provide for a living to your poor, nor an education for your children..we are broke or nearly broke. We must allocate our limited resources to our own citizenry.
2. To the State--DECLARE BANKRUPTCY! All those contractual obligations get renegotiated, thus saving legal fees involved in court fights. And politicians' save face.
3. Remove Prop 13. Give a % break to those that are already retired while true property valuations go forward every year. The services we have come to demand are used by all, so enough of the whining and exclusions.
4. There is a price to be paid for living in this most beautiful state. In order to live here, an education is mandatory, whether it be special skills or academic.
5. Smoke 'em if you got 'em!!!!!!!! "The times they are a changing...."

I had no problem using the interactive budget balancer. I made $22 billion in cuts and only $1.7 billion in new alcohol and cigarette taxes. Ended up with a $714 million surplus.

There are approximately 450,000 millionaires in California. The state could do away with its entire budget deficit by issuing obligatory bonds to all of California’s millionaires. The bonds would cost $54,000 each and would pay a reasonable interest over term. The arrangement should satisfy Republicans because a bond is not a tax. It should satisfy Democrats because it would reverse the course of draconian cuts in social programs. The bond would offer an investment opportunity for the rich (albeit a mandatory one) which would earn them extra income over time.

For a person worth $1,000,000, a $54,000 bond represents 5.4% of their total worth. This is less then the 7% reduction in monthly income which has already been levied against the state’s disabled people, whose monthly income is around $800.

The concept of obligatory bonds for the wealthy is not a new idea. It was used extensively by numerous European city-states in the middle ages.

let the federal government handle the border. like many have said, if we have to take them in, we need money to pay for it. let the fed. pony up.
as a former (recently laid off) teacher, i know that teacher salaries vary greatly from district to district. let the state set up a uniform pay scale for all teachers, seeing as how the public foots the bill in education yet has no say in teacher pay increases and salary; which is where most of the increases demanded by unions go. there is no reason why a first year teacher in one school district makes 42k per year, when less than 20 miles away another makes nearly 60k. what first year teacher should be making 60k? and what veteran teacher should be clearing 80k? for people who work 184 days a year?! please.
make all state legislators part-time workers, in order to cut down on the number of "projects" and other wastes of taxpayer money.
bring back the fat tax. if we are so worried about health and obesity and the rising cost of health care at the gov. level, do it.
cut all sports and extracurricular electives from public schools. yes this sounds harsh, but there are public sports clubs, art classes, music lessons, etc. with the tax savings alone you could afford to put your child in one of these.
deport illegal immigrants presently in CA prisons. and cut prison expenditures to the levels of other states such as AZ.
cut any program affiliated with rob reiner.
let the oil companies engage in offshore drilling.
and legalizing marijuana wouldn't hurt either.

According to the "Center for Immigration Studies" California spends $11,000,000,000,000.00 every year on benefits and services to illegal aliens from mostly mexico and china. Illegal aliens also work cash jobs and export another $6,000,000,000,000,00 to mexico every year. This has been going on for a decade at least. That's 1.7 TRILLION DOLLARS out of California's economy. It's not rocket science folks. Enforce existing law and forbid immigration "REFORM" !!!! reform is just another word for amnesty. Call ALL Demcrats in Sacramento and demand they stop spending your money to support mexico !!!!!!

When I came to California as an international student two decades ago, I was amazed by the generosity of this country because illegal aliens and non citizens alike seemed to be able to get on government welfare systems easily. To me, foreign students able to come to the U.S. to study must be somewhat well-off in their own countries, yet once they were here, they were considered poor people with no income and were eligible for various government programs such as prenatal care. Once they obtained citizenship, they sponsored their parents to come here, who would later get to live in public housing and receive SSI benefits and medical care. It always amazed me that America is so generous because they can give these people so many benefits who have never worked a single day in this country. What is more, there are so many people out there abusing the system. It is no wonder California is going broke. Why is it so hard for Californians to realize that the government should not use their hard-earned tax dollars to benefit illegal aliens as well as cheaters who abuse the welfare system? Penalize all employers who hire illegal aliens with heavy fines and stop giving benefits to illegal aliens so they would not be attracted into California in the first place. Implement effective mechanisms to prevent fraud and rid the state of those leeches who have been making a profession out of gaming the system. Get those illegal aliens in state prisons for committing crimes and deport them to their own countries. Is this too much to ask from and too hard to accomplish for California's lawmakers?

lower the retirement amount paid to state employees to 70% of earned income. and most importantly no aid of any sort for non-citizens period.... all illeagel's arested are to be deported the tax paying people of California should never have to pay one cent of there earned income to support Mexico or there citizens....

Governor Sarah Palin based much of her Presidential/VP Campaign on Alaska's low taxes. This is because Alaska taxes the heck out of oil produced in Alaska. Republians who love Palin have no problem with Alaska being funded by an oil tax. Why have a problem with California being funded with an oil (and agriculture) tax, largely paid for by citizens from other states? The oil tax should be 20%, not the 9.something% discussed here. As long as the marginal cost of drilling + taxes is < the market value, companies will continue drilling. The Alaska oil tax hasn't hurt Alaska's oil production.

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