The state of California finds itself in a fracking mess. The political energy of the Democrats’ supermajority in Sacramento is running on toxic fumes. The case can be made that the corruption of the recent convictions, indictments, investigations, and suspensions are beyond the corruption of belief.
What semi-informed voter in California–and I do refer to the Democratic voter–pretends his or her party is ruling and not ruining the state for the advancement of steadfast ideological beliefs?
California has stranded the people’s “JET,” and it cannot take off without a leader and a flight plan. The “JET” is tied down but is waiting for take-off. On the fuselage of the “JET” is painted: “Jobs-Energy-Taxes.”
As I look up and down the state, there is a drought of Republican leadership. There is a dearth of Republicans who have the charisma, character, and ability to articulate positions that could lead the state to a return of economic prosperity not seen in decades.
No one should expect a Ronald Reagan to surface, and it ‘s not likely a Ronald Reagan can be found in the politically dry Republican landscape of California. No one should be compared to Ronald Reagan in any case, since that would be unfair to both the person and party. In fact, a leader typically emerges long before holding any office.
The big question is: will a viable leader surface before the 2014 midterms, and carry through to 2016?
There are some brave and bright officeholders speaking out. There is 33rd District Assemblyman Tim Donnelly running for Governor; 34th District Assemblywoman Shannon Grove; and Andy Vidak of the 16th Senate District. If any leader emerges, the Republican Party should rally a majority of voters behind the idea that Jobs-Energy-Taxes are the most critical issues facing voters and their families.
Jobs: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the state’s unemployment rate is 8.0%, the fourth-highest in the U.S. The causes are extreme regulation, high taxes, and the poaching of companies and jobs by other states such as Texas and North Carolina. Not until a conservative leader can get his or her arms around these problems can the state begin a process of retaining and attracting jobs. The issue should not be relegated to the green sector that the Democrats so cherish. Job creation must come from a wide-ranging cross-section of industries.
Energy: California needs a comprehensive energy plan capable of unleashing a surge in the development of technologies; accelerating the growth of current and potential energy industries; and shifting in voters’ perception that clean, safe, viable, and producible energy sources exist. That plan has to come from a Republican, because the state’s Democrats have circled their Conestoga Wagons around the opposite.
The Monterey Shale alone could make California the largest independent producer of oil and natural gas in the U.S. Fracking has proven to be a safe method for the extraction of natural gas for over fifty years. The Republican leader must highlight the benefits of fracking for robust employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. California can, and must, become the most successful energy-producing state in the U.S.
Taxes: California has the highest collection of taxes, and the most strangling regulations, in the nation. Taxes are the lifeline that Democrats have seized on issues for which they have no solution. Take the current statewide drought. The Democrats believe that by proposing $650 million in new spending to provide safe drinking water to the areas most effected, they will solve the need for water. There is no reported unsafe drinking water in areas where water is in shorter supply. Who pays? Taxpayers, one way or another.
State income tax stifles discretionary spending by higher earners. Regulation and high fees drive existing businesses and new businesses out of the state–and once they have left, they never come back. Republicans in Sacramento consistently tell me they cannot stop the draining effect these taxes are having on California.
And finally, there are two major retirement systems that are huge unfunded liabilities: CALPRS, the public sector workers’ retirement system; and CALSTRS, the teachers’ retirement system. CALSTRS is underfunded by $4.5 million for the next 30 years. Republicans cannot offer any legislative reform, and the Democrats refuse to offer reforms of their own. On this issue, California cannot wait 30 years for a political sea change that would lead to Republican rule. It has to be left up to the voters to recognize that they alone hold the power.
To borrow from the San Francisco rock group, Train: “Save Me California.”
Dan Del Campo is the host of “Sound Off” and “Open Mic Friday” on KPRL 1230 AM, San Luis Obispo County.