The November election made California the highest-tax state in the nation by raising the state income tax to 13.3 percent, an increase of 29.13 percent. Governor Jerry Brown claimed the increase would boost revenues by some $6 billion and solve the Golden State’s budgetary woes. But according to state Controller John Chiang, total state revenues for November fell by $806.8 million, more than 10 percent below budget. The shortfall of nearly $1 billion has not prevented new government spending.
The California Public Utilities Commission will give cell phones to homeless and low-income people in the hope that they will be better able to look for jobs. The state is also providing 250 minutes of call time a month and 250 free text messages. New California legislation would give about 400,000 foreign nationals in the country illegally the right to unemployment benefits, a state ID card, and medical services administered by the state. In other news, a new report from the state auditor notes malfeasance by state employees, the highest-paid in the 12 most populous states.
One previously flagged for wasting $150,000 in the California State University chancellor’s office got a job with the president of the University of California. There the employee received $6,100 for travel, including a five-day trip to England. Employees in the Employment Development Department ripped off the unemployment system for more than $90,000 in two years. The state lost much more as the result of a bribery scam by two employees of California’s Franchise Tax Board. An employee at the California Department of Education found time to post nearly 5,000 comments on the website of the Sacramento Bee. As the Bee noted, he also used state resources for his own business.
The report failed to identify any of the state employees, even if they had been convicted of a crime. And it contained nothing on one of the biggest stories of the year, the $56 million state Parks Department employees had hidden for more than a decade, what one legislator called “deceit and thievery.” So the report gives special protection even to criminal state employees. Meanwhile, illegal immigrants get identification cards and state medical service, and the homeless get free cell phones and free service. The embattled taxpayers who pay for it all don’t even get to know who is ripping them off.