Californians had better take their state’s “economic recovery” and budget “surplus” with a grain — make that a pound — of salt. A current excess of cash means Governor Jerry Brown has several billion to burn, although he doesn’t mention the state is facing almost $200 billion in long-term, unfunded pension liabilities. Admittedly, budgets and debt are two different things but the common denominator is that both have to be paid back. I might have $50 left in my pocket at the end of the month but it doesn’t mean I don’t also own $30,000 worth of credit card debt.
Yes, things have turned around for the Sunshine State. Several years ago California had a crushing deficit of about $26 billion. As the recession abated and California raised taxes, the state now has cash to spend and the question is how to spread it around.
A reasonable and prudent legislature might (1) rebate several billion back to taxpayers because, after all, that body raised taxes and is now sitting on those revenues, or (2) it might save the money for a rainy day…like when the pension liabilities come knocking or, (3) it might invest in infrastructure such as schools, roads or bridges.
Ah, but the California Legislature has a much better idea. The California Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB-4 to give health care to illegal aliens — 2 million of them — and the lawmakers want to use a big chunk of California’s surplus for that purpose.
California State Senator Ricardo Lara, a Democrat who introduced the bill, said it will cost about $400 million to $800 million annually. Others, including Breitbart News have estimated the cost at $1 billion per year based on data from the non-partisan California Legislative Analyst’s office.
While Federal law prohibits illegal aliens from receiving federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, California is very good at getting around federal laws to help illegal aliens. SB-4 requires the state to apply for a federal waiver to offer “unsubsidized” healthcare to illegal aliens through Covered California. Once the state gets a waiver, health care subsidies will be provided, not by federal subsidies, but by state taxpayers because the Legislature is betting Gov. Brown wants to pay. (Brown is currently “non-committal.”) But, if California is denied a waiver, the Legislature has a workaround for that also; in that instance, they intend to create a separate state exchange just for illegal aliens, again paid by state taxpayers.
So then, in addition to the existing sanctuary policies, anti-detainer legislation, in-state tuition and a bevy of other benefits and protections California extends to illegal aliens, the state will have added yet another massive incentive that will fuel additional flows of illegal aliens, costing taxpayers even more in health care, education and incarceration.
California has a knack for creatively side-stepping laws to accommodate its large population of residents who also side-stepped laws…immigration laws. This has set in motion a perpetual cycle of incentives, need and state-sponsored gratification.
It is not sensible, sustainable or ethical but, by golly, it sure is California.