Monday, August 9, 2010

What happened to California?

The "old" progressive coalition of pro-growth Democrats gave way to the "new" progressive coalition consisting of labor unions, anti-growth "greens," and minorities and liberals, who demanded more social spending. The result was a switch from pro-growth infrastructure investment to anti-growth tax increases and public sector expansion:
“Jerry” Brown, Jr., who took office in 1975, ... scuttled infrastructure spending, in large part because of his opposition to growth and concern for the environment. Encouraged by “reforms” backed by Brown—such as the 1978 Dill Act, which legalized collective bargaining for them—the public-employee unions became the best-organized political force in California and currently dominate Democrats in the legislature (see “The Beholden State,” Spring 2010). According to the unions, public funds should be spent on inflating workers’ salaries and pensions—or else on expanding social services, often provided by public employees—and not on infrastructure or higher education, which is why Brown famously opposed new freeway construction and water projects and even tried to rein in the state’s university system.

DISCLAIMER: I voted for Jerry Brown when he ran for President. I can say only that I was young and confused.

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