Russell Nichols is a GOVERNING staff writer.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest chapter in California’s drawn-out, drama-filled political soap opera may show signs of progress, but predictably not everyone’s a fan.
It’s been nearly two weeks since the Legislature cranked out its 2011-12 state budget, which proposes a spending plan that will fill what’s left of the state’s $26.6 billion deficit with $15 billion in spending cuts and the expectation that the recovering economy will match that amount in the form of higher tax revenue. The financial plan that Gov. Jerry Brown brokered with fellow Democrats looked realistic and credible enough for Standard & Poor’s to boost California’s credit outlook from “negative” to “stable.” And K-12 education, prisons and county governments reaped rewards from the budget.
Others, however, were less fortunate. In the Sacramento Bee, columnist Dan Walters identifies the “losers” as health and welfare services for the aged, poor and disabled; colleges and universities, which now must counter funding shortages with tuition hikes; and local governments, which are getting hammered by the budget and several bills that could impact how cities operate.
But the award for the biggest detractor may go to Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who believes that the state is flat-out “ungovernable” and proposes that 13 counties split from California. The separate state, aptly named “South California,” is his solution to the state’s “financial catastrophe from which businesses are fleeing and where taxpayers are being crushed by the burden of caring for welfare recipients and illegal immigrants,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is slated to consider Stone’s proposal to host a statewide summit Tuesday.
"This has struck a chord with a lot of people in the state who have suffered economically,'' said Stone, adding that he has received thousands of emails supporting his proposal. "We know it's going to be a challenge to form a second state, but it's not a impossible. We're sending a message.''
A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown called Stone's proposal a laughable political stunt, saying the Riverside County supervisors should be more concerned about closing that county's expected $130-million revenue shortfall in the next budget year and possible cutbacks to public safety.
Apparently, Los Angeles County didn’t make the cut for Stone’s vision for South California because of its “liberal policies” that mirror those in Sacramento. But, he adds, if any county that has been excluded wants in on this succession plan, he’s willing to welcome them.
“Secession proposals are just ways of thinking about California, and are also ways for people who feel neglected get the attention that they deserve," USC historian Kevin Starr said in the article. "It's never passed, and it will never pass. It's been up to bat 220 times and struck out every time.”
As noted, these things have not panned out, but what do you think? Does Stone's stance justified? Or is this nothing more than a political tantrum? If you didn’t agree with your state policies, would you support a succession? Let me know in the comments.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.