Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Californians Don’t Get Much Bang for Billions of Bucks
By admin
Published 2 years ago on
April 24, 2022

Share

 

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association isn’t shy about its mission. Named for the chief architect of California’s Proposition 13 property tax limit, the organization fiercely defends Jarvis’ iconic 1978 measure against those — public employee unions, particularly — seeking its repeal.

So far, Jarvis and its allied groups have prevailed for more than four decades, most recently fending off a 2020 ballot measure that would have removed some of Proposition 13’s limits from business property.

But HJTA, as it calls itself, also works on a broader front, opposing most non-property tax increases and criticizing what it regards as wasteful spending of tax dollars. The latter effort includes an annual report on “waste, fraud and abuse” — essentially a summary of reports from news organizations and independent watchdogs such as the state auditor.

Dan Walters

CalMatters

Opinion

This year’s version, called “Follow the Money 2021,” contains dozens of examples of how public funds have been squandered, embezzled or otherwise misused, plus situations HJTA says show politicians getting special treatment.

One could quibble with some of the examples, but in the main they indicate that taxpayers often are not getting as much bang for their bucks as they should.

So, one might wonder, how does California compare with other states in that regard? By happenstance, as HJTA was preparing its report, an organization called Wallet Hub was offering an answer.

In March, Wallet Hub, a website devoted to consumer finance, released a study of what it calls “return on investment,” merging tax burdens with quality of services to develop an index that compares states on how efficiently they spend public funds.

The factors included in the service side of the equation include schools, roadways, hospitals, crime, water quality and poverty. Minnesota is scored as having the best services.

Unfortunately — but perhaps not surprisingly — California does not fare well in its “return on investment” score. In fact, it’s the fourth worst overall, just ahead of Hawaii, New Mexico and North Dakota. New Hampshire scores the highest, followed by Florida and South Dakota.

In services, California ranks 34th, but its tax burden, one of the highest in the nation, pulls down its overall “return on investment” score. Arch-rival Texas, incidentally, has the seventh highest return.

The HJTA report and the Wallet Hub comparison underscore an irritating aspect of governance in California — the eagerness of political officeholders to create new projects and services and their reluctance to evaluate whether their pet programs are delivering the promised results and intervene when they are falling short.

One of the cases HJTA cites, a high-tech budget tool called FI$cal, is a prime example of the syndrome. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on FI$cal over the last decade and a half and it’s still not working. The state auditor has issued 18 reports critiquing the project’s management and performance but governors and legislators continue throwing money down a rathole.

Many other examples are obvious, some particular projects such as FI$cal and some broader issues such as homelessness. It’s very near the top of voter concerns, as measured in polls and California taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on it. However, the problem seems to be, if anything, growing more acute as politicians and supposed experts debate what might work.

Politicians believe that their careers depend on offering new services and facilities and promising wonderful results while oversight and management lack political sex appeal. Ultimately, however, voters will turn sour if they conclude that they are not getting their money’s worth, as the HJTA report and the Wallet Hub study suggest.

About the Author

Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. For more columns by Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Shooter Identified in Failed Assassination Attempt of Donald Trump

DON'T MISS

Four US Presidents Assassinated; Others and Candidates Targeted

DON'T MISS

Biden Urges Condemnation of Trump Attack, Plans to Speak with Ex-President

DON'T MISS

What We Know: Trump Shot in Ear, Barely Missing His Head

DON'T MISS

Trump Fine After Rally Shooting; Gunman and Attendee Dead

DON'T MISS

Donald Trump Escorted Off Stage in Pennsylvania After Apparent Gunshots

DON'T MISS

When Progressive Ideals Become a Luxury

DON'T MISS

Barbora Krejcikova Wins Wimbledon, Beats Jasmine Paolini

DON'T MISS

Ruth Westheimer, the Sex Guru Known as Dr. Ruth, Dies at 96

DON'T MISS

John Roberts Makes His Bid for Infamy

UP NEXT

John Roberts Makes His Bid for Infamy

UP NEXT

Quiq Labs Ongoing Camps Transform Summer Learning for Fresno Unified Students

UP NEXT

End of the Roar: Porsche Bids Farewell to the 718 Internal Combustion Engine

UP NEXT

Does Joe Biden Realize How Angry These Michigan Voters Are?

UP NEXT

How California’s Bureaucracy Prevents Working-Class Transplants from Resuming Their Careers

UP NEXT

George Clooney: I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee.

UP NEXT

This Supreme Court Strikes Against Democracy, Again and Again

UP NEXT

Your Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card Is Ready, Sir

UP NEXT

July 4th Quiz: ‘Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor’

UP NEXT

California Legislature Makes a Flurry of Big Changes to November Ballot Measures

What We Know: Trump Shot in Ear, Barely Missing His Head

14 hours ago

Trump Fine After Rally Shooting; Gunman and Attendee Dead

16 hours ago

Donald Trump Escorted Off Stage in Pennsylvania After Apparent Gunshots

16 hours ago

When Progressive Ideals Become a Luxury

20 hours ago

Barbora Krejcikova Wins Wimbledon, Beats Jasmine Paolini

22 hours ago

Ruth Westheimer, the Sex Guru Known as Dr. Ruth, Dies at 96

22 hours ago

John Roberts Makes His Bid for Infamy

22 hours ago

Hey, Valley Nonprofits and Schools: Wonderful Company Is Awarding $1M in Grants

23 hours ago

For Nicolas Cage, Making a Serial Killer Horror Movie Was a Healing Experience

1 day ago

In Fire-Prone Mariposa, Residents Don’t Lose Sight of What Keeps Them There

1 day ago

Shooter Identified in Failed Assassination Attempt of Donald Trump

The FBI early Sunday named Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, as the subject involved in the assassination attempt on ...

9 hours ago

9 hours ago

Shooter Identified in Failed Assassination Attempt of Donald Trump

13 hours ago

Four US Presidents Assassinated; Others and Candidates Targeted

13 hours ago

Biden Urges Condemnation of Trump Attack, Plans to Speak with Ex-President

14 hours ago

What We Know: Trump Shot in Ear, Barely Missing His Head

16 hours ago

Trump Fine After Rally Shooting; Gunman and Attendee Dead

16 hours ago

Donald Trump Escorted Off Stage in Pennsylvania After Apparent Gunshots

20 hours ago

When Progressive Ideals Become a Luxury

22 hours ago

Barbora Krejcikova Wins Wimbledon, Beats Jasmine Paolini

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend