I have always loved this time of year! The weather continues to cool as we look forward to seeing snow fall on the hills around us.
Lights and holiday decorations roll out in droves as our houses and communities alter the daily ambience with festive icons for Christmas, Hannukah and a myriad of other religious and cultural celebrations.
For the first time since coming to Santa Clarita, I had the absolute pleasure to be invited and attend the Christmas Concert at Grace Baptist Church. The arrangements of songs from the orchestra and choirs brought to life the Christmas and holiday tunes I enjoyed growing up, and brought a message of hope, peace, and light.
Thank you, Pastor David Hegg, and to all the amazing performers, it was marvelous. You can watch the concert online at www.gracebaptist.org if you did not get the chance to see it.
Of course, one of the hallmarks of the holiday season is the excitement and anticipation of the gifts we see on Christmas morning.
We all remember the story of good boys and girls receiving presents, while the bad boys and girls would find coal in their stockings, but I wondered, what is Sacramento going to see in its stocking this year?
Based on the recent news from the Legislative Analyist’s Office, the Legislature would probably welcome finding coal. Then maybe they could sell it to offset their revenue shortfalls.
Early predictions warned that next year’s budget deficit would be between $22 billion and $25 billion, which is in stark contrast to the previous year’s nearly $100-billion surplus.
Flash forward to today, and those early predictions may very well be welcomed by Sacramento, as the updated estimates show a $68-billion deficit, which will be a serious challenge for our Democrat supermajority legislature.
Couple that with an election year, and we are in for a festive political circus of finger pointing, partisan attack, and probably another round of “government needs more revenue” rhetoric.
Barring a sudden and unexpected turnaround, this deficit would be the largest dollar amount in state history. There were always concerns with the upcoming budget since inflation and economic downturn in California has been noticed by all who try to live here, but recognition of the full extent of the deficit was delayed when the tax filing deadline was extended into November.
Couple that with the state’s reliance on the taxation of capital gains and personal income of high earners and a 2022 decline in the stock market resulted in heavy losses and lower revenues, and the news was far worse than hoped.
Let’s not forget the inflation battle’s imposition on these numbers as well.
After spending money like crazy, low interest rates and the rapid increase of our national debt, the federal reserve began increasing key interest rates.
In doing so, borrowing money got more expensive, which slowed growth, worsened unemployment, and acted as a limiter to new businesses looking to find capital and give the California business life a go.
So, what happens now?
The battle over what is essential being waged by lobbyists and other special interest groups will be in full swing, while battleground legislative races will plea for district dollars and the taxpayers will wonder how it will all be paid for.
My prediction is the state will continue to show leadership by “streamlining processes” that they see as barriers to economic activity, and then get local and county governments to continue to increase taxes to more effectively tackle the problems the state has failed to handle and no longer has the money to pay for.
It is not a conspiracy theory to realize that in California there is a homelessness and affordability issue. People from an array of poor to upper-middle class ranges are flat-out struggling with home prices and costs of daily goods.
Homelessness here in L.A. County was going to be solved in five years when Measure H was passed, and we now have far more unhoused individuals than we did before.
So, instead of moving the dollars and accountability to the local level to diagnose and treat these very regional problems, the state removes local input and control on zoning, housing, and circulation factors they see as “burdens,” and then raises local sales tax caps so that counties can tax people more and then bypass local land use authority to “address these problems.”
That is not leadership, that is passing the responsibility, but not the bucks. But I digress …
As we roll into the new year, I wish you all a wonderful, joyous and safe holiday season! May your days be merry and bright, your hearts full of goodness and light, and our state’s future adjusted to be happy and bright!
Jason Gibbs is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.