All Hands in the Piggy Bank: California’s Red Light District and the Money Whores at Work

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On my way out of the office, I bumped into Jim Sanders, the Sac Bee reporter who “bumped” me first, and asked him for his card so I could submit a few samples of my work. Total bullshit ego-feeding, of course, but the card would come in handy. I called State Senator Bob Huff’s office at the Capitol and told them I was Jim Sanders from the Sac Bee looking for a last-minute interview from the Senator before tomorrow’s election results. A shot in the dark that they wouldn’t know Sanders, but it worked. The Senator had 20 minutes before the next meeting, his secretary told me, if I could make it there quickly. Minutes later, I strolled into the Capitol Office and handed Huff’s secretary my card: James Sanders, Sacramento Bee. I was led right into the office and shook hands with Senator Huff, who seemed tired and distraught over the ensuing special election. I asked him what he thought about Prop 1A and the increase in taxes as opposed to figuring out a smarter, more accountable way to spend money.

“Just a few months ago,” he said, “the Governor attempted to solve a $42 billion deficit by signing a budget that relied heavily on tax increases and budgetary gimmicks. This type of political maneuvering didn’t work then and hasn’t worked for the last several years. It’s time to hold government accountable and reduce waste, fraud and abuse within the bureaucracy.”

“These proposed measures do seem like gimmicks,” I reiterated, “not addressing the obvious abuses by politicians deciding where to spend money. Do you think beaurocrats in the Capitol are willing to start making

the necessary cuts and find better ways to raise money other than raising taxes or borrowing against funds from future revenue streams?”

“Look, I’m pleased to see the Governor acknowledging the real need for real cuts,” said Huff. “As painful as those cuts may be, it is a reality that needs to be faced; we can’t properly deal with the $15-20 billion gorilla in the room if we continue to ignore the government’s addiction to spending. But a truly balanced budget must prioritize spending and ensure that each taxpayer dollar is being used efficiently and resourcefully. While I approve of the Governor’s frank discussion to streamline state agencies and sell off the state’s surplus property, borrowing funds from local governments or anticipated future revenue is not the answer.”

“How about Prop 1C?” I asked. “The Lottery Modernization Act. The act proposes to immediately generate $5 billion in new lottery revenue without raising taxes or cutting that money from schools, health care, and law enforcement. But the proposition doesn’t clearly spell out how new money will be spent, only vaguely alluding to health care and education funding. Is this something that can work or is it as illusory as it seems?”

WC4


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