Newsletter (1402) - February 2014

NEXT KCDW MEETING FEB 26 We will continue to meet at Hale\'92s Alehouse. Our speaker will be Irene Bowling, Democratic candidate for the 35th Senate seat currently held by Tim Sheldon. NO RSVP required.

California Dreaming

by Jo Fox Burr

When applying for college, my worst nightmare was that I might not be accepted to the school of my dreams in northern California. It wasn't just the school that grabbed me, it was California, where everything was new and clean and alive. California was golden then. Fortunately, I was accepted and the years spent there bring back wonderful memories. That was when Pat Brown was Governor.

Now, to be honest, those were the early days of unrest at UC Berkeley which was just down the road and I remember vague hostile feelings about the way both Pat Brown and the UC President, Clark Kerr dealt with it. Perhaps I was justified, but the details of my angst have left me. What I do know now about Pat Brown, is that he was responsible for building a vast intra-state highway network that facilitated commerce, a gigantic aqueduct that brought water from the water-rich north to the parched south, and the University of California system. During his time, California's public schools were ranked among the 10 best in the country. Further, it was Clark Kerr who created what was called the "the Master Plan" which laid out a blanket commitment to enable all California students wanting to attend college to do so at UC colleges free of charge. Which particular school you attended depended only on academic standing, not economic status. When this bill was signed by Pat Brown, its greatest benefit was perhaps the facilitation of true class mobility. These achievements by both Brown and Kerr helped to make the prosperity California enjoyed for decades afterwards.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan defeated Pat Brown by vowing to clean up the mess in Berkeley and throwing the "bums" off welfare. He took office in 1967, the year I graduated. California has been in decline ever since. The Master Plan is a thing of the past, as tuitions were instituted and continue to grow. Jerry Brown, Pat's son, did succeed Reagan and tried to stem the tide some, but during his tenure Proposition 13 was passed. This put a lid on property taxes and resulted in severely limiting state and local government spending. It was also established that passing a state budget required a two-thirds majority which meant that even a Democratic controlled legislature had to yield to Republican demands for cuts to the safety net.

In an article posted 6/26/2009 by Huff Post Politics, entitled "Who Ruined California", Bob Burnett talked about how the California economy was hovering on the brink of ruin. Burnett wrote about Schwarzenegger's failure to provide adequate leadership to bring Democrats and Republicans together - thus creating a three party split where no one trusted the other two. Already K-12 schools had sunk to being ranked either 47th or 49th in the nation. The state was facing a $28 billion deficit which by necessity would force more draconian cuts to schools, as well as to parks, infrastructure repairs, and the general safety net. In other words, in 2009 the California fiscal situation seemed hopeless and Burnett primarily blamed the voters.

So in 2010, the voters finally woke up andelected Jerry Brown once again and also freed the state legislature from fiscal gridlock by approving a ballot measure eliminating the requirement that the budget needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Then in 2012, they voted in a super majority of Democrats in the legislature AND approved Proposition 30 raising sales taxes and income taxes on higher earners. Though Jerry Brown still has to make major cuts, California, under total Democratic control, now has a projected surplus of $1.2 to $4 billion. Any surplus Brown is willing to spend, he is funneling towards K-12 public schools with an emphasis on the poorer districts.

While he is still being very frugal in most areas of the budget - using his power of line item vetoes - Brown is following his father by taking a long term perspective in one particular area, high speed rail. He has used Federal stimulus money to get started. However, financing the rest of it will be tricky, but like his father, he knows in the long run it will save the state money as the population grows and decrease automobile emissions, thus helping to preserve the environment. The immediate cost seems astronomical, but without high speed rail, other forms of transportation such as new airports and runways would have to be built or the state would face total gridlock which, in the end, would impair financial growth. To do that, though, would ultimately add up to being even more astronomically expensive. Getting voters to understand long term gains, as opposed to short term cost, is an uphill battle these days. However, Jerry Brown has already managed what seemed to be the impossible task of creating a surplus, so perhaps he will be able to pull this off as well. California once again is giving me hope of what can be done, particularly when forward thinking Democrats take control. Let's see if we can take back control of the Washington State Senate and start dreaming about a more positive future here.


Kitsap County Democratic Women
Date: Feb. 26th (Wednesday)
Time: 11:30 a.m. lunch; 12:30 meeting.
Place: Hale\'92s Alehouse
Speaker: Irene Bowling, Candidate for State Senate from the 35th LD

Kitsap County Dem. Central Com.
Date: Feb. 18th (Tuesday)
Time: 6:30 p.m. Desserts; 7:00 p.m. mtg
Place: Eagles Nest

23rd Legislative District Democrats
Date: Mar 25th (Tuesday)
Time: 6:30 social; 7:00 p.m. mtg.
Place: Poulsbo Library

26th Legislative District Democrats
Date: March. 4th (Tuesday)
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Place: Kitsap Rm, Givens Center, 1026 Sidney Rd, Pt. Orchard

35th Legislative District Democrats
Date: May 3rd (Saturday)
Time: 1 \'96 2:30 p.m.
Place: TBD

Each year, our motor vehicles use more than 14 billion gallons of gasoline to travel over 330 billion miles. To put those numbers in perspective, the sun is [only] 93 million miles away. - California Governor Jerry Brown