Cal­i­for­nia’s leg­isla­tive hypocrisy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The Cal­i­for­nia state Se­nate voted 28-8 on June 8 to ex­empt it­self from the point­less gun­con­trol laws that ap­ply to the rest of the pop­u­lace. Leg­is­la­tors ap­par­ently think they alone are wor­thy to pack heat on the streets for per­sonal pro­tec­tion, and the masses ought to wait un­til the po­lice ar­rive.

This is just one of many bills Golden State politi­cians used this leg­isla­tive session to set them­selves apart from the lit­tle peo­ple, the ones who pay their in­flated salaries. An­nual com­pen­sa­tion for leg­is­la­tors av­er­ages about $140,000, not count­ing lux­u­ri­ous perks such as tax­payer-funded cars and free gaso­line. By com­par­i­son, the av­er­age Cal­i­for­nian earns $50,000 a year, and the un­em­ploy­ment rate is 11.9 per­cent — far above the na­tional av­er­age. Ex­act salaries for state as­sem­bly­men and sen­a­tors are ob- scured by the use of a “per diem” pay­ment scheme that shel­ters a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of in­come from tax­a­tion.

At­tempts by a hand­ful of re­form­ers to re­quire politi­cians to pro­vide a full an­nual dis­clo­sure of the ben­e­fits re­ceived from the pub­lic trea­sury have been re­buffed. Cur­rently, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials must file a state­ment of eco­nomic in­ter­ests re­veal­ing in­come from any source other than a lo­cal, state or fed­eral gov­ern­ment agency. Gifts worth more than $50 also must be dis­closed, but lawmakers re­jected a bill that would have pro­hib­ited ac­cep­tance of con­cert and sport­ing event tick­ets, gift cards, spa treat­ments, golf out­ings and other ben­e­fits from lob­by­ists try­ing to buy votes.

Bills of this na­ture never meet an hon­est fate in which roll-call votes put mem­bers on the record as fa­vor­ing or op­pos­ing each idea. In­stead, re­form mea­sures are held in com­mit­tee to die qui­etly as leg­isla­tive dead­lines pass. As of last week, it’s ef­fec­tively im­pos­si­ble for a bill to be­come law if it hasn’t al­ready passed in at least one of the cham­bers.

Such a silent death sen­tence was im­posed on a bill that would have elim­i­nated the prac­tice of al­low­ing se­lect pub­lic em­ploy­ees to avoid pay­ing red­light-cam­era tick­ets and es­cape any con­se­quence for us­ing toll roads with­out pay­ing. The cur­rent sys­tem grants free rides to politi­cians, court work­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers, city coun­cil mem­bers, so­cial work­ers, me­ter maids and their spouses. The bill failed even af­ter a com­pro­mise amend­ment deleted the re­quire­ment to pay red-light-cam­era tick­ets.

The ar­ro­gance of the po­lit­i­cal class is cer­tainly not lim­ited to Cal­i­for­nia. Fed­eral law pro­hibits pri­vate com­pa­nies from pes­ter­ing the pub­lic with un­wanted tele­mar­ket­ing calls from busi­nesses, but Congress ex­empted “po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions” — i.e., them­selves — from its pro­vi­sions. In Sacra­mento, an at­tempt failed to es­tab­lish a spe­cial Do Not Call list for peo­ple who don’t want to lis­ten to au­to­mated calls from Cal­i­for­nia pols.

Left coast politi­cians lack all shame re­gard­ing their self-en­rich­ment at pub­lic ex­pense. Even though their outrageous con­duct has sunk a once-pros­per­ous state $10 bil­lion in debt, the pub­lic seems not to care. In Novem­ber, vot­ers re­cy­cled Jerry Brown as gov­er­nor even though Gov. Moon­beam’s dis­as­trous ten­ure dur­ing the 1970s en­abled the com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages for a union­ized pub­lic sec­tor that are bust­ing the bud­get to­day. When Cal­i­for­nia fi­nally goes bank­rupt, vot­ers need only look in the mir­ror when won­der­ing who de­serves the blame.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.