A tired old saw you will hear from the Democrats in Sacramento is that California is not getting its “fair share” of the federal dollars for various programs. Of course, they want to blame President Bush for this shortcoming on the part of the federal government, and they are now trying to force Governor Schwarzenegger into a position of pushing the President into giving California more money.
Now, I am of the opinion that California will be better off if the federal government just cuts taxes, and never sent the state government any additional monies, but the current effort by California’s Democrats is crass politics at its worst.
First of all, all of the formulas currently in law for the distribution of federal funds were put in place when Democrats were in charge of spending money in Washington. To say today that Republicans are the problem is to ignore sixty years of Washington history.
Second, California has two Democrat Senators who have the ability to persuade their colleagues in the Senate to do some things for the state. They also presumably had the ear of President Clinton for eight years with no known benefit to us as a state. It is disingenuous to say it is all the fault of the current President and Governor when California’s two Democrat Senators have gone along with our current inequities for at least 13 years without complaint from the Legislative Democrats.
Third, my Democrat colleagues are also helping to contribute to the problem by refusing to take available federal money. For example, the federal government has been trying to send the state Title V abstinence money, but the state has refused to take it. $14 million in federal money this year, and over $30 million in the last 7 years has gone unclaimed by California because “they don’t like the program.” Well–I don’t like carpool lanes, but I don’t advocate turning down federal highway dollars because those dollars build the carpool lanes. The Democrats can’t turn down money, and then complain about not getting enough.
Furthermore, the Democrats have intentionally increased spending in areas knowing full well we can’t be reimbursed with federal funds. We receive a 50% payment from the federal government for Medi-Cal services given to our poorer citizens. But five years ago, Democrats specifically added illegal aliens to the list of those eligible for the Medi-Cal program here in California, knowing the federal government wouldn’t reimburse us (because they only pay for legal citizens), and that our state’s taxpayers would bear 100% of those costs.
More important, however, we now know that the reason California is getting less money than other states is that California is younger, richer and healthier than most other states. Today, California only receives about 79 cents of every dollar it sends to Washington. At first blush, this would seem unfair, and my Democrat colleagues have taken to complaining about this “unfairness” this year, more than others, to embarrass the President and the Governor. It turns out, however, that if California wants more federal dollars, using existing formulas, it would need to import more old people, more sick people and more poor people.
The elderly tend to leave California upon retirement because it costs way too much to live here. They can sell their house in California for a large profit, and take that profit and invest in a beautiful place in Texas or Florida for a lot less money. When they move out, they take their federal social security with them. Other social service programs like TANF (welfare) and Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) require people to be poor or sick to get the federal dollars. They also require them to be citizens.
So–no longer are my Democrat colleagues quoting the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free), No–they want to change it to “Give me your old, your poor, your really sick so we can suck more money from the federal government.”
California has been a donor state since the defense industry peaked around 1985. They are looking to additional money from the feds as a way to shore up our deficit. Well, we have a deficit because we spend more than we receive in revenues. More welfare from the feds or even a “collectinator” Governor won’t solve California’s budget problems. Common sense is necessary for that, and common sense is in short supply in Sacramento these days.