37 thoughts on “Jerry Brown: Priorities

            • To a certain extent he’s just very lucky. California changed some critical laws about the budget just about the time he took office and it crushed the ability of the Republicans to make the budget process dysfunctional. Add that to the end of the recession and a huge boom in tech across the state (Silicon Beach is now a thing, centered around some beach cities in LA) and it makes running the State a fair bit easier. (State debt service ratio had dropped below 7%.)

              That said, he’s a very good politician and will be much missed (at least by me) when he’s gone.


              • I may not agree with him much, but he has struck me as a politician worthy of respect.

                Or at least as much respect as I generally can muster for politicians.

                Maybe a little more…


              • California was completely ungovernable before. *shrug*. A 2/3rds requirement to raise taxes (and slightly more than a third of the Leg Republicans from utterly safe seats?) and a WHOLE lot of baked in spending requirements via Ballot Initiatives?

                Oh, and add in the dumbest property tax setup (again, I believe, via ballot initiative) in America (your property is taxed at the valuation it was bought at, not at it’s actual value. And if you’re clever, you can prevent commercial property from ever having it’s value updated). It was bad enough with citizens paying taxes as if their home was worth a tenth what it would sell for, but I shudder to think of 40 years of shenanigans for commercial properties.

                There’s a reason it cost a ton to register your car. That’s a ‘fee’ not a ‘tax’ so it didn’t require a 2/3rds vote.


                • The 2/3 requirement and Prop. 13 are, in a very real way, doing exactly what they were intended to do: make the government look hard at what it’s doing and ask if it’s really, really necessary. The voters have approved some tax hikes, and the Legislature has, from time to time, found 2/3 of the necessary votes to raise other taxes, so it’s not like it’s impossible to raise taxes here if that’s needful. But yes, it is difficult and these are institutional incentives for the state government to look to cuts first rather than tax hikes.

                  I have a long-term concern that eventually this is going to run into hard cuts into the Big Four Services: Justice, Infrastructure, Education, and Social Welfare. At the margins, we’re seeing that happen already in at least three of these areas; Section 8 benefits were restricted last year on the social welfare side, as to the justice service we saw prison “realignment” motivated in large part by budget pressures, and public school teachers are being asked to work longer hours for lower-than-cost-of-living raises. As for infrastructure, I could bitterly notice that, there’s not so much water to move through the aqueducts anyway.

                  In the long run, we’re going to need to spend money to revamp and modernize all of these things instead of carrying forward with legacy systems. For now, we’re doing well enough and there are plenty of reasonable predictions that the economy here will heat up a lot, especially if it rains enough to break the drought and give the ag sector some relief.


                  • It doesn’t work when slightly over 1/3 of your Leg is sitting in completely untouchable seats and who pay no political price for refusing ALL tax increases.

                    It also doesn’t work if one of the two primary tax mechanism (property tax) is eaten away by inflation and totally legal tax dodges (that’s on the commercial side).

                    Honestly, the whole property tax thing seems rife with perverse incentives.


    • I would imagine it wasn’t explicitly illegal, so much as falling into an area that wasn’t defined or where there were explicit regulation that didn’t forsee this.

      I’d imagine there are regulations aplenty about liquor licenses, distribution, and vehicles containing open containers, for instance. Beer bikes probably fell into some area wherein there were defined ways to serve beer (either licenses or moving vehicles or whatever) that didn’t allow beer bikes.

      Because nobody knew what a beer bike was a decade or three back when it was last updated.

      Call it a less nefarious version of the problem of sexting and laws against child porn. There are many places where two teens can bone each other in perfect legality, but sending each other pics they took of themselves boning is a felony. Except in this case, California just updated the law (and I suspect didn’t bother to prosecute beer bikes) rather than using it as a hammer because it makes good election ads.


        • So? We’re just talking liquor licenses and vehicles with open containers. What makes a party bus or a bar in compliance with the law, whereas Bill and his Van don’t count.

          As long as there’s law at all, changing circumstances and new things will get tangled up in them. So, as is the case here, you assess the new thing and alter as needed.

          The problem occurs when you refuse to admit that your regulation is causing an unwanted problem. (Or, conversely, when you decide a single problem is a reason to toss an entire body of regulation).


            • Is it by word count? Or by pages? People are very found of objecting to things because it’s “X pages” where X is, presumably, too many. Like the ACA. It was too many pages, and that was totally a legitimate objection voiced by actual politicians on TV.

              Or is it a nice round number? That’s how the stimulus got decided. Someone felt the total was a nice round number, and everyone knows round numbers that sound good are an excellent basis for economic decisions. Yep. It was the roundness, the way the total fell off the lips that got it passed.

              I love questions like this. They’re so fun. What about weight? That’s another fun metric to determine “too many”. Is it because it bans beer bikes? Can’t be — unbanning them would be another burdensome regulation, so awful by default. Hmm.

              Nope, I don’t know. Do tell.


              • People are very found of objecting to things because it’s “X pages” where X is, presumably, too many.

                People don’t understand that statute, either federal or state, is a very large integrated whole. As a non-attorney joining the legislative staff in Colorado, this was a lesson I had to learn quickly. Something that sounds simple — people of the same sex can get married — affects that body of statute in a large number of places. So what started out as a simple concept — people of the same sex can get married — requires that the bill change statutory language regarding inheritance, tax privileges, automatic power of attorney, immunity from testimony, relationships to children, and on and on and on. All of the existing statute on the subject contains language that assumes one man, one woman, and has to be fixed.


                  • That and, IIRC, when it’s printed out it’s often printed in ridiculously large fonts with huge margins.

                    But yeah, law is a lot like a piece of software. Just imagine it’s been around 200 years, constantly being patched and updated the entire time.

                    And some of the libraries are a bit suspicious, although there’s generally plenty of documentation at least.:)


    • The nutters who worry about the physical relationship between a dozen, drunk, people sitting on an open-framed slow-moving object on California roads and the multi-ton vehicles sharing the same environment.

      eg., traffic engineers, trauma surgeons, MADD members, etc.


  1. These exist in Savannah, with the added wrinkle that Savannah allows open containers for pedestrians within the Historic District, which is largely where these operate. City council had some issues, because DUIs apply to bicycles as well as cars, and also because there is a faction in the city council that are instinctively opposed to all things alcohol-related, and another faction that is instinctively opposed to change (some overlap there). The bike companies argued that only their employee, whose on-the-job sobriety was a condition of employment, was the “driver” of the bike, because he or she had the steering wheel and the brake.

    Operation-wise, they fit just fine in Historic Savannah, which already has traffic calmed by squares, pedicabs, horse-drawn carriages, Segway tours, and tourists that wander into the street like unattended 4yr-olds.

    I thought they looked like fun when they were first introduced, but I’ve had so many pleasant conversations interrupted by the passengers screaming at each other over “Call Me Maybe” blaring from the built-in sound system that I’ve somewhat soured on the idea.


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