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Costing Out Governor Moonbeam

Thursday December 15th, 2016   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 11:26am PST   •  

50220944 - full moon rising over the ocean empty at night with copy spaceBack in the day, Jerry Brown earned the nickname “Governor Moonbeam” for proposing that California launch its own communications satellite. “I didn’t get that moniker for nothing,” Brown recently proclaimed, adding, “if Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.” The governor did not indicate what this satellite might cost, but as his building plan for the capital shows, it is likely to be much higher than he can imagine.

“California risks embarking on a flawed and potentially costly Sacramento-area state office building strategy,” notes Jim Miller in the Sacramento Bee. The $3 billion plan calls for the renovation or replacement of 11 state buildings. The state legislative analyst finds the project short on detail and warns that the governor’s June budget agreement limits controls over how the money gets spent. Already it appears that the buildings, as Miller explains, “will turn out to be more expensive than earlier estimates.” That will come as no surprise to embattled California taxpayers.

As we noted, the Sacramento headquarters of the California State Board of Equalization is known as a “24-story money pit,” with a history of leaks during heavy rains. The state building features mold, burst pipes, falling glass, a bat infestation, and traces of toxic substances. Over two decades bureaucratic bosses have spent some $60 million on the building, but in 2014 the cost to fix everything was another $30 million. None of that would have been necessary if the building had been properly constructed. It wasn’t, because politicians were looking the other way, and there’s no recourse, because politicians allowed the statute of limitations on defective construction to run out in 2002.

Taxpayers might also recall that the new span of the Bay Bridge came in 10 years late, $5 billion over budget, and remains riddled with safety issues such as cracked rods, defective welds, and corrosion. When confronted with the safety problems, California governor Jerry Brown famously replied, “I mean, look, shit happens.” This is the man who supports a bullet train, two massive water tunnels, and wants the state to launch “its own damn satellite.” Whatever the cost, he would surely be okay with it. As Governor Moonbeam says, “I didn’t get that moniker for nothing.”

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December 2016