Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Warnings from a truth-teller

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | January 07, 2014 | 2 Comments

Every once in awhile, California gets a major public official who thrives on telling the unvarnished truth. In recent history, these have usually held the office of state treasurer, a low-visibility post that can give its occupant plenty of time to ruminate.

First in this line in the modern era was Jesse Unruh, for whom a political studies institute at USC is now named. Unruh, the ultimate politician during his 1960s tenure as speaker of the state Assembly, predicted while treasurer in the 1970s precisely the kind of budget conundrums California would face for almost 20 years starting in the mid-1990s.

The early-book favorite to be the next treasurer, current Democratic state Controller John Chiang, also pulls few punches in his monthly reports on state finances and has not hesitated to offend legislators in both major parties by doing things like holding up their pay during a budget impasse.

Current Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who somewhat like Unruh was once a consummate legislative politician as president of the state Senate, loves to uphold the tradition. Back in 2003, he confided while attorney general that he had voted for a Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the special election to recall then-Gov. Gray Davis, a fellow Democrat. But for years after that, Lockyer never hesitated to cross Schwarzenegger, especially when the muscleman “governator” sometimes tried to treat the attorney general as something like a personal lawyer.

Now, in a mid-December speech in Thousand Oaks, the about-to-retire Lockyer has outlined the problems California must solve over the next generation in as bald a manner as Unruh ever did.

One is that too much of California’s state revenue now comes from income taxes and not enough from other levies like the sales tax. Like others, Lockyer believes this is one reason California continues to see a net out-migration to other states, even as foreign immigration fuels some increases in population.

He also used the word “alarming” to describe the ever-increasing income gap between rich and poor Californians. Another way to view that gap is as part of the gulf that has developed between coastal and inland Californians.

This chasm also showed up prominently in a December survey by the usually reliable Field Poll. That sampling found views of California life are far more positive among people in the wealthier coastal counties than inland.

Example: A clear majority of registered voters surveyed in the San Francisco Bay area described California as one of the best places in America to live. Just one-third of voters in the Central Valley and Inland Empire counties of Riverside and San Bernardino agreed. It is probably no coincidence that unemployment is much higher inland than near the coast.

Poll director Mark DiCamillo told one reporter that, “…Voters are viewing the state as it relates to their ability to get a job and the economic tenor of the time.”

Then there’s the gap shown by the survey between senior citizens and younger people. More than half of Californians who are over 65 rate this as one of the best places to live, compared with about one-third of those aged 40 to 64. The numbers are plainly skewed by the fact that a higher percentage of seniors than younger people own homes outright, and — as DiCamillo observed, “The cost of living has a lot to do with (high prices for) housing. If you can get past that hurdle, California suddenly looks a lot better.”

Differences in both employment status and home ownership are big parts of the income gap on which Lockyer focused.

The plain-spoken treasurer also worries about state public employee pension plans, saying the California State Teachers Retirement System, in particular, needs fixing or it “in 30 years, implodes.” By contrast, he said the California Public Employees Retirement System, providing pensions to public employees not in education, is “more solvent than critics would have people believe.”

Like Unruh and Chiang, Lockyer sees none of the state’s problems as insoluble. But unless the state faces up to them as in recent years it has with the budget, California will be hurting for decades to come.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 07, 2014 - 11:14 am

    Honesty about debts and deficits is usually met with hostility or avoidance by those who do not want to hear about it, or those who think fiscal restraint is unfair to somebody. Try asking a thoughtful, intelligent person about the US debt. They will either admit we can't pay it back, or say they don't like to think about it. It is this avoidance behavior which has led us to a place where we are destined to sink. Any politician with the guts to face the problem is called negative or cynical. So, the credit card debt grows because mom and dad (politicians) don't have the guts to tell the kids (voters) the truth, and eventually the bank (China, Japan, the future) will take the house away, new spa and all!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ontJanuary 08, 2014 - 1:06 am

    From Sacbee today: “The Legislative Analyst's Office projected last fall that the state could post a $5.6 billion surplus by June 2015, with annual surpluses reaching $8.3 billion by the 2016-17 budget year." Amazing what can happen when the nihilist party loses some of its veto points.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

 
Davis United Methodist Church, Holmes Green Team leaders honored

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Event to provide nature scholarship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Online K-12 school holds info night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Schwenger lawn signs available

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Volunteers needed for Grad Night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis grad makes rain collection a business

By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
A few spots left on history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Students have new options on leasing front

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Author discusses memoirs of Appalachia at The Avid Reader

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Food for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

Groups join for a day of service

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
.

Forum

In search of great ideas

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Please keep the nursery open

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Early help is a great investment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
More tax money? Answer the question

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

 
UCD IS responsible for students

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Acacia at Huntington Square

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Suzanne Kimmel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Andrew Dowling

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Sheryl Patterson

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Don Guthrie

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Julie Partain & Dick Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Team Traverso

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tim Harrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Lori Prizmich

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Open House Map

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20