March Madness is here.
The college basketball version we love: Upsets, athletes playing their hearts out, gravity-defying plays.
It’s another version of March Madness we have a problem with. In that one, Democratic politicians in California’s state Capitol crank out logic-defying ideas.
You might want to search for the “Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes” theme and play it while you read the rest of the way.
Let’s make college free
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, wants the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make college free for more Californians.
Perhaps he has not noticed that President Trump and congressional Republicans want to slash spending on social programs and eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, steps that could shift huge costs to the state and force deep cuts.
As detailed first in the Los Angeles Times, McCarty aspires to provide free community college for first-year students, and hopes to eradicate the need for student loans for nearly 400,000 students in the California State University and University of California systems.
McCarty is correct that California’s public colleges are integral to this state’s past and future success. We advocate for them regularly. But California has multiple priorities: updating our water storage and delivery systems, fixing our notoriously bad roads, providing health care for the poor and parks for everyone. And paying down government debt.
If legislators want to help college students, they could ease laws that slow construction of low-cost student-oriented housing, or perhaps use California’s financial clout to find ways to lower student-loan interest rates.
Let’s jack up the cost of housing
California needs more low-cost housing and housing in general. Study after study has shown that housing scarcity, which results in high home prices and rent, is a burden for middle-class and poor families.
So what is Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, doing to help home buyers and renters? He has introduced Assembly Bill 199 which, in the words of Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, would “make private, market-rate residential development a public works project.”
Brand goes on to say in his March 7 letter to Chu, “As such, a prevailing wage would have to be paid. This bill would have major implications in Fresno, which is one of the poorest areas of the state and a city where home ownership is a struggle for the average family.”
Brand opposes the bill, and we do, too.
Let’s give teachers a pass on their state taxes
As reported by The Sacramento Bee’s Taryn Luna, Senate Bill 807, introduced by Democratic Sens. Henry Stern of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, would exempt California educators from paying state income tax on their salaries after they have taught for five years.
The bill would also provide a tax deduction for the cost of attaining a teaching credential.
We love California teachers. They do important and difficult work. And we understand the thinking behind the bill: Some California school districts are having a hard time hiring and retaining teachers.
But if legislation becomes law, where does the slippery slope end? For example, police departments are having to go to great lengths to find qualified individuals to be officers.
And what about the erosion to the California budget if teachers don’t have to pay state income tax?
How then does the state provide the roads, water infrastructure, parks, public safety and hundreds of other things that people want?
March Madness is upon us.