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Broke California using taxpayer money to lobby for more taxpayer money

Saturday, September 24, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: California, bankruptcy, health news

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(NaturalNews) Just when you thought the drunken-sailor spending habits of California couldn't get any more absurd comes a report this week that state lawmakers have elevated squandering taxpayer money to new heights. Broke California is actually using taxpayer money to beg Washington for more taxpayer money.

Worried that Washington lawmakers are keen to cut the federal budget by shifting the burden to the states rather than actually cutting spending, the California state Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats, has hired a K Street lobbying firm to fight for its "interests" on Capitol Hill.

And while the price of this insanity may not seem like much - $180,000 a year - in the great scheme of things (California's gross domestic product is larger than most countries), consider this: The state is flat broke, with a debt roughly equal to $9,500 for each of the state's nearly 37 million people after years of subsequent budget deficits and borrowing.

Worse, California's credit rating is in the cellar, meaning all of the borrowing it has been doing to pay for all the lawmakers have been dishing out in exchange for votes comes at a premium. So it's no wonder the state Assembly wants to wring every dime it can out of the nation's taxpayers; because state taxpayers can't keep up.

Part of this insanity is, of course, Washington's fault. Again, in an effort to curry favor among key constituencies or the electorate in general, Congress and the White House are keen to pass legislation that require federal agencies to write rules (read mandates) that take the force of law, but don't come with any funding (i.e., unfunded mandates). States have to pick up the tab, and they do that, usually, by tapping state taxpayers to foot the bill.

California and a few other states have only compounded their financial problems because not only are they liable to fund the unfunded mandates, their legislatures and assemblies often pass laws that put even more regulatory burdens on state taxpayers and businesses. And while all may seem well when economic times are good, when times turn bad those mandates don't go away - just the funding for them does.

"State governments are a little different than the federal government in that they actually have to balance their budgets. So the ever-changing amount that the feds provide really makes things difficult," Jeff Hurley, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told The Washington Times.

Hence the need for cities and states to hire "representation" in the form of lobbying firms, again on the taxpayer's dime. Only, the simplest answer is also the most impossible one (think political gridlock), and that is to simply get rid of the mandates or, at a minimum, scale back those that serve no purpose other than to ensure someone somewhere continues to have a job. Surely there are a few we could do without.

Out-of-control spending and borrowing is the direct result of two political factors: Over promising by lawmakers and over regulation by state and federal agencies. So absurd has become the level of this madness than now smaller governments have turned to lobbying the central government for a bigger share of a shrinking pie, and that is lauded as more "necessary" than actually cutting spending and loosening the stranglehold on taxpayers and businesses.




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