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John Campbell

John Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing the 35th District in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website and through the website for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]

The Good Ole Days
The budget didn't used to be in such a mess...

[John Campbell] 2/1/05

Often when people are lamenting our current state budget crisis, they harken back to the "good old days" of the 60's. In those days, they recall, California had great schools and we built the interstate highway system. Today, they will moan, “our schools are failing and our roads are crumbling … we don't spend enough money on either." Then, depending on their ideology, they will say that taxes need to be higher and we need more spending.

So, what has happened between the 60's and now to cause this perception? A look at the facts is instructive. Total state tax burden in 1965/66 was 6.39% of personal income compared to 8.44% in 2005/06. That means the state is spending 25% more of your income than it did back in the “glory days”. So, the state is now collecting lots more taxes, even adjusted for inflation, than we did in the 60's. As usual, more taxes have not resulted in more roads or better schools.

So what happened to the money? Here is a chart showing how total state spending by category has changed from the mid-1960's to the Governor's proposed 2005/2006 budget:

Health & Welfare

As you can see, education (K-12 and higher Ed) are getting about the same percentage as they did 40 years ago. But the major change is that health and welfare programs absorb nearly double the share of the budget than they did then. And transportation/roads get less than half the share they did in the 60's.

So, we are told that our education system has declined because we spend less money. But we actually spend more of our total economy on education than we did 40 years ago. We are told that we underfund welfare programs. But spending on them has doubled. The one place where we truly do spend half of what we spent in the 60's is on roads. And that is the only place it truly does show.

More Teacher's Union Antics: In last week's report, I quoted an ad that the teacher's union is stating that education has been "cut by $9.8 billion" when in fact it has increased from $35 billion to $50 billion in the last 7 years. This shows that teacher's union bosses clearly need some remedial math instruction. (Since when does 35-9.8= 50? It must be that ‘new math’)

Now, the president of the teacher's union sent me a letter in which she blasts the governor's pension reform proposals. In referring to the proposal under which teachers would have a defined contribution pension plan, the letter states,

"Nobody has explained what society will do with the ranks of those whose retirement investments fail. Will California expand the ranks of those receiving public assistance? Shall the destitute sell apples on the streets? Will we open the poor houses for them?"

Is moving to a defined contribution plan suddenly going to cause CALPERS investment returns to collapse? Are they afraid to bear the risk of the politically correct investing that the union bosses direct? What about the taxpayers who currently bear this risk for themselves and for the public sector? Will the union bosses buy apples from them out of their pensions? So, I guess in addition to retaking second grade math, these union bosses may also need some high school classes in "home ec" or something.

Remember as I say all this that I am in the extreme minority of member's of the legislature whose kids are in public schools. (There are only about 10% of us at last count). In fact, both of my sons (one is now in college) will complete their entire K-12 education in public schools in Irvine. My interest is absolutely in improving public education. Those who have controlled the education establishment for decades would have you believe that more money for them is all we need. As we have shown, more money without reform has not done it and will not do it. Give fresh ideas a chance. CRO



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