It may not surprise you to hear that our state has 12% of the nation's population yet pays more than 30% of the nation's welfare. What might surprise you, however, is that Assembly Democrats don't feel that is nearly enough.
Recently, a Democratic legislator stood on the floor of the Assembly and publicly called for the government to redistribute wealth. The Assembly member explained, "There is no doubt, in this state, that we have inequities that need to be dealt with and should be dealt with by this Legislature." The Assembly member was specifically referring to using governmental authority to equalize the wealth between prosperous homeowners and farm workers.
To the chagrin of taxpayers statewide, this sentiment has become a rallying point for California's liberal lawmakers.
Californians have become well-acquainted with high taxes that fund government programs and handouts that are served in generous portions to non-taxpayers. In fact, last year, over my strong objections, the Legislature approved the largest tax hikes in the state's history in order to fund "safety-net" and other social programs preferred by legislative Democrats.
What did this get us? Taking more money from hardworking taxpayers and giving it to those who pay little or no taxes by way of government welfare did nothing to alleviate the state's financial situation. Now, California is facing a $19-billion budget deficit.
It is clear that redistributing wealth is a policy that does not work. What seems lost on Democrats who control the Legislature is that rather than redistribute wealth, the government should assist the free market in growing the economy.
The best way for government to do this is to get out of the way.
California's Legislature has long implemented tax and fee policies that fund scores of programs. And once a government program starts, it never ends. Democrats claim that without these programs, some would have few humane options for survival. I believe that the most compassionate action is for the government to permit conditions in which business owners can afford to expand their operations and expand their workforce. This will provide much needed private-sector jobs.
Government should not be in the business of forcing people to survive on state aid. Instead, the Legislature must reduce bureaucratic roadblocks, issue tax credits to employers who are hiring, and simply stop impeding the growth of business — and employment — in California.
California has a $19-billion deficit. Years of attempting to redistribute wealth clearly has not worked. Now more than ever, the Legislature must help get Californians working again and must improve our business climate. Both can be accomplished if government simply gets out of the way.
I do not believe Californians need or want socialistic wealth redistribution by the state Legislature. Californians want a prosperous business and employment environment which will fairly distribute wealth through earned wages and salary.
JIM SILVA is an assemblyman covering the 67th District, which includes Huntington Beach.