California Gov. Gavin Newsom has introduced his four-phase plan to reopen the Golden State, which might take a while given the fact that the governor has California under legal lockdown right now and he’s not going to release his grip quite as quickly as other governors are.
That’s actually going to be all right with plenty of people, though, according to the state’s former GOP head. He says there are already plenty of district attorneys and sheriffs who are already undermining it.
“California is a big place and treating northern California or the eastern counties the same as L.A. makes no sense,” former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Baccaro told “Fox & Friends” during an appearance on the show Wednesday.
There was, as he put it, a “dirty little secret” about how the state was being run in the places where Newsom couldn’t necessarily touch.
“The district attorneys and certain sheriffs aren’t enforcing Gavin Newsom’s rules, so I think things are going to unravel for him,” Del Beccaro said.
Here’s Del Baccaro chairman blasting the Newsom’s plan:
Del Baccaro is one of the biggest voices pushing back on Newsom’s plans for the state, particularly given the fact that California huge and has rural areas that aren’t as affected by the coronavirus as places like San Francisco and Los Angeles are.
In an appearance on San Diego’s KUSI-TV, he also predicted the plan would suffer a loss in the judicial system.
“What Gavin Newsom [is] doing will be plainly challenged in court and I’m betting overturned,” he said.
He also noted one of the serious problems with what Newsom is doing on a statewide basis: Treating all counties the same, though their experiences with — and exposure to — the coronavirus have been radically different.
Much about the state’s actions haven’t seemed thought through, like the disaster that was Newsom’s beach and state park closures.
And then there are the economic problems that are being created by the shutdown.
Earlier in the month, Del Baccaro penned a column for Fox News in which he argued that Newsom had limited options to deal with the state’s revenue shortfall, a shortfall that was going to be combined with massive outlays when it came to social safety-net spending.
“The problem facing all those California governments is revenue shortfalls caused by the government-mandated shutdowns,” he wrote. “The state, and its cities and counties, rely on sales tax, use taxes, hotel occupancy taxes (cities), gas taxes, property taxes (local governments) and business operations taxes. Of course, the state also relies on income taxes.
“All of those tax collections will be less than what was budgeted at the start of the current fiscal years. While it is not clear exactly when shutdown in California will be ended, it is clear that at least three months of those expected tax revenues – a quarter of the fiscal year – or more, will be severely impacted.
“That impact is highlighted by estimates that one-third or more of California restaurants may not reopen, that car dealerships can only survive between one and three months, and that farmers, who continue to be shorted on water allocations, will have fallow fields — and on and on.”
But, as Del Baccaro pointed out, “to deal with the crisis, spending has risen at all levels of government in California. The full amount has yet to be determined.”
“So, what will California do to combat its economic slowdown and budget deficits? Well, you can expect federal government bailout requests to be made,” he wrote. “However, the precedent implications of federal government bailouts of state and local budget deficits limit that possibility.”
That means raising taxes — a problem when you consider that California’s sales taxes, income taxes and gas taxes (among other taxes) are profoundly high, which no doubt has contributed to a mass exodus from the state.
Raising property taxes is a problem: Prop 13, a provision in the California constitution adopted after a 1978 referendum that states that “property taxes are set at one percent of a property’s market value at the time of acquisition and annual increases are limited to no more than 2 percent per year,” Del Baccaro wrote.
In short, California’s have to change that, and a drive is underway to put a measure on the state’s November ballot that would split commercial properties and residences, making it easier to raise property taxes on the former. Even if that makes it onto the ballot and passes, it’s not likely the cure for the state’s ills, and could make things worse.
“Raising taxes during a weak economy is like handing weights to struggling swimmer,” Del Baccaro wrote.
Newsom seems set on his course, though.
“Politics will not drive our decision-making, protests won’t drive our decision-making,” he said Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We need to protect not just the business community, but customers of those businesses.”
However, unlike other states, California’s plan is almost glacial in terms of how it reopens for business.
“Unlike Georgia and other states that are already allowing hair and nail salons to operate, those would have to wait until a later phase of California’s reopening plan, the state public health director Sonia Angell said,” Fox News reported. “Mass gatherings, including concerts and sporting events, are even further away, possibly not until there’s a virus treatment.”
The four-stage plan revealed by the governor on Tuesday is “unrealistic,” according to Del Beccaro.
“Where do restaurants fall in this plan? It’s not clear and there’s already an estimate that 30 percent to 40 percent of restaurants in California will never reopen,” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
There are a whole host of problems California is going to have to deal with. In one respect, it’s probably a good thing that the Golden State is too big for one man to govern; the tendency is for governors to treat all parts of the state similarly, which leads to strange asymmetries like restrictions that make sense in San Francisco being placed on counties with no new coronavirus cases and a much different culture and population density.
The state will also have to figure out a way to deal with a hit to its huge tourism industry, one of its biggest money-makers. Tourism is likely to suffer cataclysmic damage under any plan, but especially one that locks down the state’s beaches and tourist-magnet cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
In short, Gavin Newsom might be better off not trying to control his state like a man grasping at sand, desperately trying to keep it from sliding through his fingers.
As it stands, he has enough things to worry about.
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