SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers spent the preceding months of the recently concluded legislative session reforming public-employee pensions and other unfunded liabilities that are crushing local governments. They reduced the state’s regulatory burden in a bid to spur job creation. In the waning hours of session, they even rolled back the slow-growth rules that drive up home prices — the main cause of our highest-in-the-nation poverty rates.
Say what? The above paragraph was a joke — a self-evident one for those who pay careful attention to the goings-on in the state Capitol. The chance of lawmakers even trying to enact any of the above-mentioned reforms is in the ballpark of zero. Those massive problems — growing debt levels, suppressed job creation, expanding poverty rates — should merit legislative attention, but the Democratic leadership had other priorities this year.
For instance, passing a measure that would require presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns, which was one of an endless sea of proposals and press conferences meant to stand up to the Trump administration. I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but Earth to California’s Trump-spiting legislators: The president doesn’t care about your posturing.
Then there was the fixation on gender. Creating a new “non-binary” category in addition to “male” or “female” on a driver’s license is fine, but it’s not the civil-rights victory of a decade. Furthermore, I’d prefer that legislators spent time dealing with tens of billions of dollars in pension debt rather than requiring cosmetologists to be trained in “physical and sexual abuse awareness.”
There are plenty of examples of this Legislature’s lack of seriousness, a preference for politically correct preening rather than the hard work of addressing difficult problems. But in reality, the Legislature did some serious work. As usual, they seriously devoted themselves to giving things away to the state’s politically powerful unions, and seriously expanding taxes and fees. Somebody has to pay for all the giveaways. Hint: That somebody is you.
A Sacramento Bee headline captured the session in its full ugliness: “Union power on display in California’s just-completed legislative session.” Not only did the unions help assure that public-sector cost issues were not addressed, they secured new regulations and demands on private-sector businesses.
They even undermined the privacy rights of workers…