Re "Assembly Rejects GOP Budget Plan," July 7: The budget impasse in Sacramento is not simply a matter of inexperienced legislators having childish tantrums, as some commentators suggest. Members of both parties, in tandem, perfectly reflect the vast number of American citizens' wish for generous government services without having to pay taxes to fund them. We want quality education, health care and public safety, as well as a properly functioning infrastructure, but we are not willing to pay for these.
Hence, the grumbling and expressions of outrage about increases in the California "car tax" -- this by people driving those very cars on streets managed by traffic lights, secured by police and traversed by paramedics and firefighting equipment, when necessary. All of this and more is paid for through taxes. Apparently, we citizens expect some band of extraterrestrial pixies to meet our personal and civic needs. Our legislators are doing too good a job representing the will of the governed.
As a closet libertarian, I always look forward to -- and deeply enjoy -- the annual budget train wreck in Sacramento.
What if they shut down the government and nobody noticed? What if "vital programs," pork and "unintended consequences" far and wide were canceled and nobody cared? Hey, it's worth a try.
James F. Glass
So Assemblyman Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City) considers help for the poor, the blind, the sick and the uneducated to be "wasteful spending." Proof, once again, why no Republicans should ever be allowed to use the word "compassionate." They have no concept of its meaning.
As an attorney in the state Department of Justice, I feel compelled to correct your implication that Gov. Gray Davis should "get tough" with state employees and force them to give up the 5% raise we are scheduled to receive (editorial, July 3). The state's lawyers have the responsibility to protect the public from environmental pollution, civil rights violations and consumer fraud, as well as from convicted criminals seeking to overturn their convictions. Yet, we are paid approximately 15% to 25% less than city and county attorneys performing similar work.
The 5% raise that will take effect this fiscal year was part of a contract negotiated two years ago when the state had sufficient funds to correct this disparity. But state employees did not receive the increase at that time, and not last July either. Therefore, what you refer to is actually a total 5% increase for a three-year contract, or slightly more than 1.6% each year -- putting the compensation of state attorneys and other state employees even further behind that received by employees of other public agencies.
Re "State's Jobless Benefits Fund at Risk of Running Dry in 2004," July 4: So, the Employment Development Department's unemployment fund is running out of money, and employers will "probably have to pony up even more money" for the fund. One question: How many more employers will have to pull a buck knife and leave the state before The Times gets it?
California needs to be as employer-friendly as possible or our employer base is going to be so small that nothing will be funded. State unemployment insurance and workers' compensation insurance are already prohibitively high. Increased sales tax, a tripled car tax, a state income tax that is one of the highest in the nation -- these are all things driving high-income retirees and businesses out of the state.
We need to change these policies before it is too late.