Arthur: I am happy to discuss the multiple issues you listed. Call my office and we will work out a good time to meet for you and me. You can then blog about anything we discuss at the meeting. Ted Lieu
I called State Sen. Lieu's Redondo Beach office again. I told them that I was not interested in meeting with Lieu by myself. I want him to set up a townhall meeting in Redondo Beach, where his constituents can confront him and ask him questions about his legislative record and his priorities, including his attempt to triple California's car tax.
The Redondo Beach staffer directed me to Lieu's Sacramento office, where I requested once again a townhall meeting in Redondo Beach. The Sacramento staffer responded:
"Oh, you're the blogger."
Oh brother—is this what it takes for a state legislator to start taking his constituents seriously?
The staffer rebuffed my requests for a townhall meeting.
"Oh, so you do not want to meet with the state senator?"
The time for talking is gone. The state senator needs to explain his pursuing inane boutique bills while the state of California is sand-bagged with high taxes, higher regulations, and the height of overspending. I brought up the attempted tripling of our car tax. The staffer responded with a lecture on California’s failing transportation infrastructure and failing schools—as if it's the taxpayers' fault. Working families are balancing their budgets and tightening their belts. Why can't our legislators do the same?
I offered a very simple suggestion: implement Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining reforms. Allow cities and school districts to renegotiate medical benefits and pension formulas. He interrupted me again:
"Senator Lieu supports collective bargaining.”
Of course Lieu supports “collective bargaining,” i.e. the union lobby. Most of his campaign dollars come from unions.
The staffers’s following statement was most insufferable, one which should outrage voters, Democrat or Republican:
"We have balanced the budget."
State Senator Ted Lieu once admitted that the budget is not balanced:
You may want to add that in the New Year. . . that we whittled down a $60 billion budget deficit four years ago to $1.9 billion this year, with projected surpluses starting in 2014. —Sen. Ted Lieu
Gov. Jerry Brown admitted that the "balancing budget" was anything but. Here is Brown's own assessment:
"The deficit's gone; the wall of debt remains," Brown said, noting the state's $36 billion debt could be reduced to $4.3 billion by 2016. (Bold added)
As tempting as it might be to buy this story line, the answer is no. In reality, the Brown approach is the latestin a series of "kick the can down the road" budgets that ignore the buildup of debts. It rewards public-employee unions with pay and benefit increases—while shielding them from desperately needed pension reforms—and ignores deep problems within the state's economy.
But what about the report from California’s Legislative Analyst's Office?:
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office agrees the budget is basically [?] balanced, but the agency's head, Mac Taylor, noted "it doesn't pay all of the wall of debt within the time period. It builds up very little of a reserve by the end of that period, and it does nothing regarding our various retirement-related obligations."
The liberal-sympathizing Huffington Post published this AP report covering "Brown's balanced budgets":
After years of cutting education and social services to close deficits, California's budget is finally in balance as long as state lawmakers follow Gov. Jerry Brown's guidance to hold the line on spending, the Legislature's nonpartisan budget analyst said Monday. (Bold and underlined added)
In other words, the budget is balanced as long as the legislature balances the budget. This is worse than "begging the question": this is "insulting the California
The report continues:
Last week, Brown released a $97.6 billion state spending plan for the new fiscal year and projected a $1 billion reserve. Two months ago, the Legislative Analyst's Office had projected a more cautious outlook that forecast a $1.9 billion deficit.
Taylor said Monday that higher tax revenue, increased savings and repayment of loans account for the slight differences.
The higher tax revenue has not been collected yet! The increased savings have not been saved yet! The repayment of loans has not been repaid yet! And Governor Brown wants to increase spending, too? The whole situation reminds me of spoiled children who plan their spending sprees with their inheritance when their wealthy and healthy parents die. Such lavish speculation is not only outrageous, but immoral.
State Sen. Lieu should stop hiding behind his staffers and stage a townhall meeting (not an "event", not a "ribbon cutting") in Redondo Beach, where he can explain why the "budget is balanced", when his own words and the Legislative Analysts' Office suggest otherwise. He can then explain why he wants to legislate about abandoned ships, microchipping pets, tanning salons, and hunted bears, while attempting to triple triple our car tax and while his colleagues are threatening to undo California's meager pension reforms.
My response to Senator Lieu: Townhall Meeting, Please!