How would the Libertarians solve the CA budget crisis?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed one cent sales tax is not being well received, and State Senator Don Perata (pictured above) already has thrown gas on the fire with this outrageous quote, “”I’m glad the governor has come around to saying publicly what we’ve known all along – that we have to have taxes in order to correct the problems we’re in right now,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

So is there any other way to resolve our state’s budget crisis?  How would the Libertarian Party resolve it, for example?  Well, the California Libertarian Party has published an online article addressing this very issue.  The article, entitled “California Smackdown 2008-2009” is written by Ron Getty.  Here it is in its entirety:

California faces a $20 billion budget deficit, the result of politicians’ erroneous financial assumptions, a housing market downturn with reduced property taxes, and a possible recession brought on by the federal government’s inflationary monetary policy.

California’s government itself is a part of the deficit problem. It’s a huge behemoth with 500 agencies, departments, and divisions in eight broad categories. There are 345,000 state employees averaging $85,000 annually in pay and benefits, which costs taxpayers $29 billion alone. In comparison, private industry per capita pay and benefits average $45,000.

One method to cut the state deficit would require California state employees’ pay and benefits to be scaled to meet an average equal to private industry’s pay and benefits. This $40,000 cut per state employee would reduce the budget deficit by $13.8 billion in one short stroke.

There are other ways to trim a bloated, deficit-ridden state government budget.

One would be to make many agencies and commissions self-supporting through user fees; another would be to eliminate useless agencies and commissions altogether. Still another approach is to compare the services an agency or commission provides and determine whether the same service is being offered by a private company. The agency or commission would then be required to make a competitive bid for the service against a free-market privately-owned business. To be competitive, the playing field would need to be leveled by repealing all prevailing wage legislation as well as public servant union pay scales. If the private free market company offers a better competitive deal, the service gets outsourced.

If it is determined that an agency, a commission, or a council was created for the purpose of satisfying political campaign contributors and had no real reason for existence, it should be eliminated.

Let’s look at a few agencies, commissions, and councils that could be eliminated, supported through user fees, or outsourced.

The California Arts Council exists to encourage artistic awareness and expression among Californians. Since our state has 1,700 art galleries and 170 art museums, not to mention businesses supporting the arts through exhibits and local communities supporting art fairs, we seem to have enough art awareness. So let’s eliminate this $5 million California Arts Council boondoggle.

The Department of Consumer Affairs establishes licensing standards for some 225 professions, from accountants to veterinarians. With a $251 million budget and 2.4 million professionals covered, charging an annual licensing fee of $105 per professional to maintain this licensing would save the taxpayers $251 million.

The Adult Operations program for the Department of Corrections consists of 33 operating correctional institutions overseeing 170,000 prisoners and a $5.5 billion budget. With federal crackdowns on illegal-immigrant farm labor, California should literally “farm out” prison labor. Offering some 125,000 nonviolent prisoners at a competitive pay at $10 an hour would generate $2.5 billion, cutting the taxpayers’ burden in half. Hard-core prisoners could farm specialty herbs and spices inside prisons for sale to high-end markets and restaurants, further cutting budget needs.

The Department of Parks and Recreation oversees 85 state parks and 200 campsites, beaches, and hiking trails. The 2008-09 budget was going to be cut, with 48 state parks closed. These closures have been forestalled in the governor’s newly proposed $569 million parks budget. It’s time to take some radical measures to save the parks. California should get out of the parks business. It should sell the state parks, campsites, hiking trails, and beaches to private businesses or individuals to hold them in trust for the benefit of the public. This way, businesses and individuals could jump on the “Green Wagon” and save California parks.

Each business that adopts a state park would receive tax deductions equal to the cost of maintenance, upkeep, repair, and park staffing. Businesses could join together to adopt parks, hiking trails, campsites, or state beaches and split the tax-deductible costs. Private individuals could adopt state park areas though a nonprofit tax-deductible contribution corporation. In this way, the $569 million Parks and Recreation budget could be cut and still allow Californians to have outdoor recreation. Otherwise, we should do the politically incorrect thing and charge an entrance fee of $7 each to the estimated 80 million yearly parks visitors to cover the budget.

The examples I’ve cited to cut the budget deficit would save $18 billion. If the budgets of each agency, commission, council, or department were to be looked at in terms of user fees, outsourcing, or outright elimination, the savings could easily total another $18 billion.

The $20 billion budget deficit doesn’t require increasing taxes or finding new sources of revenue. It’s a signal that it’s time to smackdown California government spending.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.