Inform local papers: CAFR tax surpluses fully fund education, infrastructure

I thought I’d share what I e-mailed my two local papers to explain how our schools could be fully funded rather than endure continuing  and crippling budget cuts. I felt this approach could attract a broad audience.

You’re welcome to take from these whatever’s helpful for this or any other issue of interest:

Subject: guest editorial on school funding

Hello,

I thought you might be interested in a guest editorial from a broader article I wrote. My family has lived in La Canada Flintridge since 1957. Here’s a first suggestion for your consideration:

Does California need a $600 billion investment fund given our austerity?

Most people don’t know this, but Californians have been overtaxed by $600 billion dollars at the state government level. This is documented in California’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Clint Richardson details $577 billion in investments and cash in this annual public document.

Let’s consider what this means:

This public evidence makes Governor Brown’s claim of a ~$16 billion budget deficit with no option than “austerity” a lie. This is similar if the governor claimed the public checking account didn’t have enough money for our children’s schools while he covered-up a savings account with over 30 times the claimed shortage. This charge applies to previous administrations and both political parties’ leadership.

Clint notes on page 107 of California’s CAFR that the $6 billion annual interest cost and $164 billion in state debt are also cover-ups when contrasted with taxpayers’ investments. A sharp irony is that many of California’s “investments” are in other government debt securities. This means a net loss to taxpayers as one group pays another interest minus the cost of creating and managing the debt.

The state of California claims these funds are “designated” and cannot be used for other purposes, and necessary to fund pensions.

Let’s look at this official claim:

“Designated” lasts only as long as our representatives say; and these are the same people who “designated” austerity for our schools, roads, and and other essential infrastructure. When I last invested the time to slog through the state’s CAFR in 2009, the difference between current employee contributions and pension payments in a depressed economy with laid-off employees was $1.8 billion. This means the state claims they need 320 times the budget deficit to solve this problem. That is, the state claims they need to overtax Californians 320 times over to pay a bill.

Californians do not know about these funds revealed in the CAFR. If they did, would they choose the state’s management of austerity while investing in debt and Wall Street’s scraps from corporate dividends? Or would they demand to know their other options?

If this $600 billion were returned to California’s 12 million households, each would receive $50,000. Or, if you prefer the money returned per average household income of $50,000 since this sum represents an overtax, each household could receive a proportional amount (the average La Canada Flintridge household earns $150,000/year; that refund would be $150,000). Of course, these colossal investments should be considered by multiple and independent cost-benefit analyses to discover our options; we can’t simply all cash them in. But now that you know, doesn’t it make you feel like demanding such analyses rather than be told austerity is the only option, and we must dig into our own pockets to properly fund LCUSD schools?

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