California Gov. Jerry Brown must rapidly close a $25 billion budgetary shortfall. But right now it seems almost a hopeless task since the state’s disastrous budget is a symptom, not the cause, of California’s much larger nightmare.
Take unemployment. It currently runs 12.6% in California, the nation’s second-highest rate.
Take livability. A recent Forbes magazine survey listing the most miserable 20 cities in the nation ranked four California municipalities among the index’s five worst places to live.
Take education. California public schools test near rock bottom in national math and science scores.
Take the business climate. A recent survey conducted among CEOs ranked California dead last for jobs and business growth.
California uses more gasoline than any other state and has the most voracious appetite for electricity. But Californians also enact the most obstacles to producing their own sources of oil, natural gas and nuclear power.
State referenda and the legislature have made it the hardest state in the nation in which to raise taxes and the easiest in which to pass costly new laws.
The state’s mineral and timber industries are nearly moribund. At a time of skyrocketing food prices, more than a quarter-million acres of some of the richest agricultural land in California’s Central Valley lie idle due to court-driven irrigation cutoffs — costing thousands of jobs and robbing the state of millions of dollars in revenue.