Conn Carroll: What happened to the Golden State?


Conn Carroll: What happened to the Golden State?
Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner

“What is this but the most diverse, creative and longest standing mass migration in the history of the world,” Brown said of the Golden State. “The rest of the country looks to California. Not for what is conventional, but for what is necessary to keep faith with our courageous forebears.”

It’s a nice story. And up through the tech boom in the late 1990s, it was largely true. California was an engine for innovation and job growth. It was a prime destination for middle-class families throughout the country who were looking for a better life.

But it isn’t true anymore. More Americans now emigrate from California to other states than immigrate from other states to California. This exodus has cost California more than 1.5 million residents since 2000. And the reason is simple – the jobs are fleeing first.

In his state of the state speech, Brown claimed, “California lost 1.3 million jobs in the Great Recession, but we are coming back at a faster pace than the national average.” The first half of Brown’s statement is true, but the second half is not.

This article provides a Reader’s Digest overview of what CA has done to itself the past 40 or 45 years that brought it to its current dismal state. It introduces topics that will be examined in greater detail in further articles. But for now, I’ll just say that it’s spot on!

Let me be clear about something. That “past 40 or 45 years” I cited above spans roughly from the first Jerry Brown ***MAL***Administration through (ironically) the current Jerry Brown ***MAL***Administration. There were R Governors during that time span: George Deukmejian; Pete Wilson; Arnold Schwarzenegger. Deukmejian tried to reverse some of the damage Brown had done, not very successfully, courtesy of the Legislature. Wilson also made some efforts to reverse the course toward our current mess, but - fiscally - made a very serious compromise/mistake by allowing a large tax increase in exchange for future budget cuts (that never happened … sound familiar?). Arnold made some good-sounding noises, made some efforts, but when those failed he surrendered and went so far as to try to recall a R legislator who dared to vote against the Ds’ tax increases; when it came to things Enviro, Arnold was an unmitigated disaster! So I’m not playing the partisan - though Ds deserve much of the credit/blame for CA’s current mess. Stupidity in politics is not peculiar to any political party. CA has been blindly electing and living the worst from both parties, IMO!


Conn Carroll: The California spending rush
Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner

This past November, after voters approved Brown’s income and sales tax hike through a referendum, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office projected that California would still end fiscal year 2014 with a $1.9 billion deficit. In January, just two months later, Brown claimed in his State of the State address not only that “the budget is balanced,” but that the Golden State was on track to end the fiscal year with a billion-dollar surplus.

So what exactly happened in the span of two months that added $2.9 billion to California’s bottom line? Did the economy suddenly turn around? Was spending cut? Not at all. What happened is that Brown simply made up new numbers.

Brown’s budget not only assumes $1.1 billion in higher income and sales tax revenues than the November projections, but it also takes advantage of an additional $1 billion in revenues that will supposedly be created by the state’s new cap-and-trade program and the elimination of certain development tax breaks.

Will any of Brown’s magic new revenue actually materialize in state coffers? … A recent California Common Sense study showed that, since the recession began, governors’ budget projections have overestimated revenue by an average of 5.5 percent. Apply that average to Brown’s 2013 projections, and California’s budget would suddenly go from $1 billion in the black to $3.9 billion in the red.

And those are just the debts that Brown chooses to acknowledge.

This is what happens when pols spend more than tax receipts year after year after year after …! This is what happens when pols use one-time-event-money to start up ongoing programs! This is what happens when pols see taxpayers - individuals and businesses - as infinitely milkable cows!!! And negotiate union contracts predicated on that infinite milkability!!!


California In Crisis: California’s expensive education failure
Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner

According to RAND Corp., as late as the 1970s California’s public schools still had an “excellent” reputation. Then, in 1975, Brown (in his first stint as California’s governor) signed the Rodda Act, giving government unions the power to take money directly out of government employees’ paychecks.

The CTA’s first big political victory came in 1988, when it helped pass Proposition 98, which amended the California Constitution to mandate that at least 39 percent of the state budget be spent on K-12 education spending. Since then, California teacher salaries have skyrocketed and are now among the highest in the nation (only Massachusetts and New York pay more).

But all of that money for teachers salaries hasn’t helped students in the classroom. By 1992, the first year for which state-by-state comparisons are available, California ranked second to last among states tested (ahead of only Mississippi), in reading proficiency among fourth-graders.

Since then, California per pupil education spending has continued to rise, and student test scores have not. In 2011, the most recent year available, California eighth-graders finished 48th in reading, ahead of just Louisiana and Mississippi, and 48th in math, ahead of just Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps California should change its state motto to “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Politicians are protecting the dysfunctional bureaucracy and the unions. The unions are sucking money and bennies for members and protecting the worst members almost up to the prison door. Many parents are bamboozled and intimidated by the smokescreen of professional claims, and those who see through it are demonized and circumvented by pols, bureaucrats and the unions. The ones who will, ultimately, pay the price for this massive educational malpractice will be the children, who are the future of the State of CA and part of the future of the US. The small - and it is small! - bright spot is the growth of private education in CA (under CA law, homeschooling is considered part of private education).


California in Crisis: Golden State’s green jobs bust
Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner

It was supposed to be the next big thing.

California built decades of broad-based prosperity from the Gold Rush, then Hollywood, then aerospace, and later Silicon Valley. At the turn of the century, “green jobs” were supposed to be the wave of the future.

But where the rest of the nation has rejected all or most of these proposals, California has embraced them all.

How is that going for them? For starters, California now has the highest gas prices in the country. As of the third week in February, the price of regular unleaded was 40 cents more ($4.15 per gallon) than the national average ($3.74).

There are two main reasons for this. First, California has special clean-air rules that essentially make the state a boutique gasoline market year-round. Second, thanks to other environmental regulations such as the California Environmental Quality Act, only 14 refineries are still operating in the state, down from 27 in 1980. As California’s cap-and-trade program kicks in this year, the number of refineries will continue to go down, and the price of gasoline will continue to rise.

WashDC shares some of this blame, but CA government bought the Enviro-Hype in full and to spare! The bottom line is that CA - state and local - has incentivized and subsidized the most utterly predictable failures in recent US history. Flushing the money down a toilet would have had the same effect, and been more efficient! And then there’s the other side of this Enviro-Coin. CA has a regulatory atmosphere that kills jobs and hobbles the creation of new businesses … all in the name of The Environment!

This (and the following article) also bears on CA’s fiscal woes. The fools in CA’s legislature and Governor’s office (mostly Schwarzenegger and Brown) have been “budgeting” partially assuming growth generally and especially in “Green Jobs” … growth than has not happened, mostly (but not entirely, the Feds deserve some "credit) dues to CA’s hostile business climate (taxation and regulation).


California in Crisis: Green state chokes off its middle class
Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner

Unfortunately, California environmentalists are trying to turn much of the Central Valley’s farmland back into desert too. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, federal courts have ordered farmers to divert hundreds of billions of gallons of water away from crops and into the Sacramento River, where it is supposed to help revive the delta smelt.

The diverted water has not helped the smelt much, but it has turned hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland fallow and sent unemployment in some farming communities as high as 40 percent.

California could solve this problem by building more dams, thus adding water capacity. But the state hasn’t built a major new dam since 1979 and none is on the drawing board.

Local government smart-growth plans have made it next to impossible for developers to build single-family homes near job centers such as the Bay Area or Los Angeles. As a result, real estate prices along California’s coast are among the highest in the nation, forcing many middle-class families to downsize or move elsewhere.

California’s once-famous highway system is also failing to serve the state’s population. According to the Federal Highway Administration, only 28 percent of the state’s highways were rated in good condition in 2010. Another 48 percent of the state’s highways were rated acceptable, while 24 percent were rated poor.

Instead of spending on highways, the Democratic governor has committed $5 billion to a high-speed rail plan that was originally sold to voters as a $40 billion project.

CA has deluded itself into thinking that choking off future growth won’t impact the present. Seriously, it’s that simple! Problem is, people still came - until recently - and all the anti-growth policies did was increase misery. Traffic went from bad to worse, when CA all but stopped building and expanding highways. Limits on housing growth in “desirable” areas increased prices in those areas and moved housing growth further away (Anybody like 3-4 hour commutes?). Prevent refinery growth? Micro-market specialty gasoline blends? Higher gas prices and occasional shortages. Devote water to (supposedly) preserve some obscure fish? Turn billions of dollars of farm land into a court-ordered desert and destroy 10s (100s?) of thousands of jobs (of a kind that require only a moderate education). Government regulation has both immediate and longer-term cumulative effects … destructive effects.

So, if you want to see what the Progressives’ and Mo-o-o-o-o-oderates’ (they’ll just take a little longer to get there) utopia will look like? Look no further than California. We’re living it!


California is a textbook example of how to destroy the innocent and spread poverty and crime to everyone.

Our citizens are among the dumbest in the world and stupid is supposed to hurt, so we are right on the track we are supposed to be.


It’s hard to believe that California was the birthplace of the Conservative Revolution.


Reagan was elected Governor in 1966, LB. Many RO members were not yet born, and many more - including me - were not yet able to vote. 46+ years is a long time ago where social change is concerned. And the boom-time growth of ~1975-~2000 engendered a lot of complacency where government spending and regulation are concerned. It may be dawning on some CA’ians that, “Tax-spend-and-regulate hasn’t killed us yet,” isn’t exactly a very high or safe standard. I’m not holding my breath, though. I’m convinced that many/most government employee union members will persist in believing that the government is holding out and faking it even if CA goes into Chapter 9 (if it even applies to states!); as will many government-dependent citizens.