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Posts Tagged ‘California’

Anyone living in California is well aware of our budgetary crisis. But what if I told you there was more than just the budget? What if I told you that even though the CA budget was in the red, there were dark pools of money not being touched that far exceeded our budgetary shortfalls? While that may sound like a conspiracy theory, it turns out to be both true and quite commonplace.

If you look at the budget, then California, as of April, has a shortfall of about $26.3 billion. That’s the amount allocated for spending that we did not take in as revenue in the general fund and must now make up the difference either by increased taxes or spending cuts. There’s nothing unfamiliar about that so I won’t bother going into detail. But that’s the budget. When it comes to government finances there are two sets of books. There is the budget and then there’s the Comprehensive Annual Financial Review (CAFR). The CAFR is basically a comprehensive list of all liquid asset funds, bonds, stocks, etc, that the government owns. Every state, county, city, and local government must produce a CAFR every fiscal year. And much of the assets reported in the CAFR never go towards the budget, strange as it may seem.

So what’s the difference between the budget and the CAFR? The budget only lists the money the government receives from taxes, fines, and fees. Within each budget, a certain amount of money is set aside for “rainy day funds”. This money gets invested and does not get spent as part of the next year’s budget. There are also large profit centers in each state where revenues do not go towards the budget. For instance, the revenues from many toll roads are excluded from state budgets. Thirdly, when voters approve the sale of bonds to raise money for a specific project, once the project is paid for, the excess funds are not handed over to the state toward next year’s budget. They just sit idly in an earmarked fund, drawing a modest interest. This is why, in California, we have the dichotomy of experiencing both a budget deficit of $26.3 billion while at the same time having a $71 billion surplus.

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The AP is running a story about Californian John Marcotte who is trying to get signatures to support a ballot measure that will ban divorce as a response to a ban on gay marriage.  I find this not only amusing, but exactly what was talked about in the comments to this post from last year.  Marcotte has no aspirations that this measure will ever become anything, but sees it more as a movement to try make voters rethink why they want to ban gay marriage.

“Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more,” the 38-year-old married father of two said.

If you think marriage needs to be protected then it seems logical that this step would be a natural progression on the gay marriage ban.  But the fact that most people would blanch at this idea, should cause some to reconsider their thinking process on proposition 8 which passed last year.  Surely, many people supported prop 8 for reasons other than “protecting the sanctity of marriage”, but for those that didn’t, this satirical measure should be right up their alley… right?

I’ve never heard a good clarification from a supporter of traditional marriage, as to why making divorce illegal wouldn’t be even more justified than banning gay marriage, so if you have one please let fly.

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maricaliAccording to this article there is proposed legislation in the assembly to legalize marijuana because of the potential $1.4 billion in revenue from legalizing pot that could help with the budget woes.  In its current form it will require federal sign-off, which is not going to happen anytime soon… but may possibly be re-written to get around this.

As I have stated before I am in favor of legalization, and I think it would be interesting if tough economic times finally get this ball rolling rather then any of the other arguments for it that have been presented.

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How novel.  And how likely to be short-lived.  Long Beach, CA is in the news as a municipality preparing to legislate around California’s ban on smoking in public establishments.  The city council is voting to allow smoking in establishments specifically designed for smoking, such as cigar shops and other tobacco selling stores.

If we’re not careful the government may soon allow coffee to be served at coffee shops!

The smoking ban is ludicrous to begin with, and the fact that even this little allowance will most likely be revoked later shows the extent to which our personal liberties are eroded through public notions of safety.  Does a freedom-loving individual really need to be protected from smoke when they purposely choose to enter into a cigar shop?

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