Dan Walters, a Sacramento Bee columnist and author of several books and more than 8,500 columns on California politics, didn’t mince words at a Fresno County Rotary Club meeting Monday when discussing the present failings of the state government.
“It (the state government) got fat, it got sassy and it got lazy,” he said to a large gathering of Rotarians in the Cornerstone Banquet & Conference Center in downtown Fresno.
Walters, whose five-day-a-week column appears in both The Sacramento Bee and The Fresno Bee, said the state government has lost track of fundamentals: water, schools and infrastructure.
Many of our current water issues are similar to those faced in Gov. Jerry Brown’s first term in the 1970s, Walters said. The state faced a drought, but the northern and central regions failed to learn from it. He praised Southern California’s efforts to build more reservoirs and invest in desalination plants in the last few decades to avoid similar problems.
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On the education front, Walters mentioned the state’s economic shift from agriculture to technology and health care. These fields require a high level of training and education, but the state’s school systems have not kept up.
Walters summed up the infrastructure issues with a question: “How can we have the highest gas taxes but the worst roadway and traffic conditions?”
He noted that Highway 65 still isn’t completed; one segment in the Roseville area to the north was supposed to join with a Bakersfield portion in the south, creating a route through the eastern San Joaquin Valley.
It (the state government) got fat, it got sassy and it got lazy.
One Rotarian asked Walters if he worried about this mishap repeating itself with high-speed rail.
“You’re gonna get some track laid down in your Valley – it’s already happening,” Walters said. “Once you get beyond that point, there ain’t no money.”
Walters noted the High-Speed Rail Authority will share its new funding plan with the public soon.
“It may be more of an exercise in fiction writing,” he said.