Stupid kids. You want that, right? No, I didn’t think so.
Or at least uneducated kids. Statistics show that children with little or poor education have a greater likelihood of being impoverished, committing crimes, and failing to participate in society as adults. Having well educated kids makes society safer, stronger, and healthier. Children who are better educated become better employees, make more meaningful contributions to society, and commit less crimes. Smarter kids strengthen society and the economy. I’m all about smarter kids. And a better economy.
Governor Schwarznegger has stated that California doesn’t have the money to pay for California’s current education system. He wants to cut education spending. California simply does not have enough money.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, California accounted for between 13% and 17% of the United States’ gross domestic product in the last couple of years. That’s about a seventh of the entire nation’s economy. Nearly one in seven dollars generated in the United States comes from California. There are fifty other states. Fifty. In 2006, California generated about $1.7 trillion dollars. Let’s look at all those zeroes for just a second $1,700,000,000,000. Wow. That’s a lot of zeroes. California makes a lot of bread. Literally, since it exports 1.1 million tons of wheat a year.
The California Department of Finances states that if California were an independent nation, it would have the seventh largest economy in the world. Other sources say that it would only be tenth. Depending on the time of year, and who is killing who unfortunately, the UN estimates that there are about 192 nations in the world. Even if California ranked only tenth in the world, it would be in the top 5% of all nations in the world.
Yet California’s spending on education has been lame. Pathetic even. California spends about $8,607 per student. On average each state spends about $9,566 per student. That’s not adjusting for the fact that the cost of living California is higher than say Wisconsin. California’s spending level puts it at 34th in nation. Wait, I thought the California economy was ranked at least tenth in the world. And isn’t California generating 1 in 7 dollars in the entire country. I’m at loss here. How can California be so incredibly wealthy and yet lag so far behind the rest of the country?
California also provides some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world. Okay, so I’m biased since I’m a Californian. Still, California generates $93.8 billion in tourism each year. Let’s see that with the zeroes. $93,800,000,000. Man, I love seeing all those zeroes. California is the number one travel destination in the United States supporting over 900 thousand jobs. California is number one in the entire country. Got it? Good. Okay, now, I’m well aware that lots of people like to wine and dine in the cities, but millions upon millions of people visit California to see the natural beauty.
Governor Schwarznegger has stated that California doesn’t have the money to pay for California’s state park system. He wants to close the gates to parks and let trails as well as facilities fall into disrepair.
California has not actually had a huge budget gap yet even though it has had some budget problems. If you look at slide G-3 of the presentation by Governor Arnold Schwarznegger this year, income and expenses have stayed relatively in sync for the last couple of years. The problem, according to how I read the presentation, is that projected expenses will outpace projected income dramatically over the next four years. The key is to close, if not eliminate, the gap.
I’m about being fiscally responsible and closing the gap. Good idea.
Governor Schwarznegger has taken the approach that cutting expenses is the only available means for solving the problem. He calls this budget reform. And certainly cutting expenses to critical aspects of our society is one way to solve the budget problem. He’s trying to head off even more difficult budget problem down the road. However, it seems to me that the cuts to education in particular only moves the problem from one area into another area. The trade off is sacrificing our children’s future. This approach trades short term economic gain over long term economic and social health.
Another approach to budget reform is to change the available income. When it comes to education, please just raise our taxes. Yes, I know, it will cost money. I am willing to spend the money. Raise my taxes, please.
Income for state parks could come through a variety of creative solutions such as usage fees, sales of goods, gathering donations, increasing fines on littering and pollution, and insert your own bright idea. Certainly at least a few of the 35,000,000 Californians could come up with an idea brighter than slashing funds for state parks.
The entire budget gap for this year could be closed if state taxes were raised only $750 a year for less than 2/3 of all Californians. Yes, California could excuse the poorest third of its population from fixing the budget problem and still close the entire budget gap. I know that $750 dollars is not chump change. It’s a lot of cash for some people in the top two thirds. Still for $62.50 a month, I’d be willing to keep our education system going and our state parks open.
Maybe there are some brighter ideas out there. But if we cut education and close our state parks, we certainly can’t expect them from our children.