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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]

Number One!
Not exactly the pauper budget liberal's bemoan...

[John Campbell] 2/7/05

We’re Number One! This is the cry often heard at college sports events when the faithful students, alumni and fans express their opinion as to which team is the best in the country. Being Number One in this context is good. But it is not always best to be Number One in something.

California is Number One in the country in a lot of things. You would think, based on the rhetoric from liberals ruminating on the state budget over the last 5 years, that we must be Number One in not funding our budget. After years of “cuts” and “draconian reductions” and “austerity”, you would think that we must be Number One in being miserly with the taxpayer’s money. Ebeneezer Scrooge must be our state mascot and penny pinching has to be a spectator sport in Sacramento.

But the truth is quite different. California is indeed Number One in all the spending areas that follow:

Number 1 in average salary per state employee: That amount is $57,000 in California (not including pension, benefits and time off), which is 30% higher than the national average.

Number 1 in retirement benefits for state employees: A survey done by the Legislative Analyst found California retirement benefits to be the highest in every category amongst the 5 states analyzed with similar programs. California was an average of approximately 30% higher than the other states.

Number 1 in basing retirement income on the highest salary: California is the only state in the nation that bases permanent pension benefits on the one year in which the employees’ pay was the highest. Most other states take an average of the last 3 years salary. It is this provision that has spawned much abuse with salaries being spiked for one year to guarantee a much higher lifetime pension.

Number 1 in the number of additional populations than required by federal law to whom we offer the number one medical coverage.

Number 1 in salaries for public school teachers: According to the American Federation of Teachers, the average teacher salary exclusive of pension, benefits and time off, is $55,693.

Number 1 lowest fees charged to Community College students of all 50 states.

Please note that all of these are population adjusted wins! And these are only the Number Ones! There are lots of areas where we are Number 2, like the percentage of population on free government funded health insurance (18.2%) second only to New York. Or places where we are number 4, like overall tax burden. But you get the point.

How can we be so austere and cruel when so much of our spending leads the nation in state employees, health and welfare programs and bureaucracy? Do you look across the border to Arizona or Oregon or Colorado and see a society suffering from a lack of government spending? The fact is that our spending and taxation levels are not too low, they are too high. And on top of that, we’re not getting what we pay for.

Remedial Math: In last week’s report, I pointed out that spending on education as a percentage of our total economy has risen in the last 40 years. Several responders questioned my math since education spending as a percentage of the total budget had declined slightly over the last 4 decades from 41% in the mid-1960’s to 40% today. However, those responders missed that the total budget has increased from 6.39% of total personal income (basically state GNP) to 8.44% of total personal income. Therefore, state spending on education has gone from 2.62% of the state economy to 3.38%. And that doesn’t include local funding or the dramatic increase in federal funding that has occurred over the same 40 year period. The establishment wants you to believe that money is all that is wrong with education and is all that is needed to correct it. Unfortunately for them, the facts simply don’t support that position.



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