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Commentary: Sacramento’s policies hurting us in the pocketbook

Recently, we honored the fine men and women of the Police Department who work so hard to keep us safe from drug addicts and criminals who prey on our citizens.

They do a great job, and I commend them. But they do a great job in spite of one major obstacle — the liberal-led state government in Sacramento.

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 109 into law. Also known as realignment, AB 109 lessened the punishment for those who commit property crimes or nonviolent crimes, basically sending them back on the street to wreak more havoc instead of being in prison where they belong.

The net effect of AB 109 is not prisoner reform, but instead more and more drug users on our streets shooting up heroin, using meth and roaming like zombies. While I have libertarian leanings, inheriting the cost of someone hooked on heroin is out of bounds.

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Mix that with Proposition 47, which California voters passed in 2014, and we now have a toxic cocktail of bad laws that are allowing criminals to roam freely on our streets with few repercussions.

Ask any of our Costa Mesa police officers who have to deal with this on a daily basis if they think this was a great idea.

I can tell you the answer right now: It’s a resounding no.

So once again, the residents, local government and law enforcement are forced to absorb the costs of Sacramento’s follies. The governor and his Democratic cronies in the state Legislature have a zest for unloading prisons to save money and pushing their costs down to us.

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It’s time they stop.

But apparently, they aren’t done with their shenanigans.

Now the governor and the fringe majority are proposing to raise the gas tax, even though we are already paying the highest in the nation, and attach an additional user fee.

The reason, they say, is that they need the extra money to repair our roads, but don’t they already take enough from us to repair them?

Actually, that is really the whole Sacramento scam. The governor and the Legislature take a big chunk of our money and we get nothing in return.

Let’s use South Coast Plaza as an example. We get 1% of the gross sales tax; the rest goes to Sacramento or the county. So for $1.8 billion in annual sales at South Coast Plaza, we collect only $18 million.

Think about it: That is one penny out of every dollar that you pay to shop at South Coast Plaza that comes back to us.

The money you pay each year in property taxes isn’t much better. For every dollar sent to Sacramento in property taxes, we get 18 cents in return.

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Here in Costa Mesa, we are doing the best we can with the money we have. But Sacramento continues not to pay for the policies it creates, whether it’s early release or new gas taxes.

So every time you see someone strung out on drugs on our streets, think of the governor and the state Legislature.

Every time you can’t take your child to the playground because the homeless have taken over our community parks, think of the governor and the state Legislature.

Every time you hear about a neighbor whose car was burglarized or home was ransacked, think of the governor and state Legislature.

Every time you fill up your car and now don’t have money for basic necessities, think of the governor and the state Legislature.

As a leader of the local government, I have to think of ways to fix the mess the governor and state Legislature make. I’m fed up with it.

The community is tired of the governor and Sacramento making our lives harder and taking more of our money. I want them to give us more local control and stop taxing us. I want them to listen to the people.

As the mayor, I have a “Meet the Mayor” event once a month where I listen to the concerns and issues that our residents face, most of them largely caused by Sacramento.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “Meet the Governor” so we can tell him to stop taking our money and making policies that increase our crime or make our daily living less affordable?

We need more politicians who fly at low altitudes and understand the problems we face so they won’t create more problems with bills like AB 109. We need politicians who walk the walk and meet the community on a regular basis and know that we are already taxed too much.

Instead, we have the opposite. It’s time for all of us to work together to change that.

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STEVE MENSINGER is the mayor of Costa Mesa.


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