Just as I was beginning to get used to writing “19” in notes and letters, February arrived. January is one of my favorite months. It’s a long month, but there is also an unmistakable newness that January brings with it. You can’t help but use its 31 days to look back over the past year, cast hopes and visions for the future and begin developing plans to make those visions a reality.
This is especially the case in the world of California politics. Because while the longest shutdown in U.S. history plagued the federal government and swallowed just about every minute of national news coverage, January brought with it a brave new world for the California political landscape.
Consider this: Democrats hold eight of eight statewide offices. In Congress, Democrats ousted Republicans in seven districts, increasing their command of the California House delegation to 46 seats vis a vis the Republicans’ seven.
And, in the state Legislature, Democrats picked up three additional seats in the state Senate, for a 29 to 11 majority, and five seats in the state Assembly for a 60 to 20 super-duper majority. And that was before Assemblyman Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who narrowly won his race as a Republican, changed his party affiliation to Democrat. Today, the Assembly is composed of 61 Democrats and only 19 Republicans.
It is impossible to overstate the significant taxpayer peril caused by such gargantuan Democrat majorities. Tax and fee increases require a two-thirds supermajority to pass. Based on the size of their caucuses, it will require every Republican in each chamber, plus seven Democrat Assembly members and three Democrat senators to stop additional tax and fee hikes from becoming law.
Plus, beyond tax hikes, all it takes is a simple majority vote to enact new laws with the potential to devastate our local industries.
During the peak of post-“Gasland” fracktivism, Gov. Jerry Brown was a backstop of reason against an aggressive anti-oil and gas crusade. It’s unclear whether Gov. Gavin Newsom will be anywhere near as understanding and reasonable.
During his campaign, Newsom signed an “Oil Money Out” pledge to reject contributions from the oil industry. And, according to Politico, when the Western States Petroleum Association offered to help sponsor a benefit concert that raised money for wildfire victims, they were turned down by the governor. He wasn’t even interested in their support for the victims of unprecedented tragedy (WSPA instead donated a significant amount directly to the California Fire Foundation, the same foundation Newsom’s concert benefitted).
But it’s not just our local oil industry that could be caught in the crosshairs of progressive California politics.
Agriculture is moving towards implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and in desperate need of a long-term solution that improves delivery of water for irrigation. Without a fix that increases surface water availability and reliability, our ability to grow the food and fiber that feed and clothe the world is in jeopardy.
As progressives continue to push and pull toward single-payer healthcare, even our local healthcare industry has much to lose from the current state of California politics. Just last week, RoseAnn DeMoro, former head of the National Nurses United and one of the leading advocates for single-payer, was quoted saying, “We’re going to help Gavin push single-payer through.”
And, on top of the legislative fights that lay ahead, the 2020 ballot already looks like it will be a busy one. A measure that would change Proposition 13 and create a “split roll” for property tax is one of three initiatives already qualified for the ballot. An initiative that would create a statewide soda tax is one of at least seven measures currently gathering signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.
Suffice to say, there’s a lot of work to be done to protect taxpayers, business and jobs in the state of California, which is the best segue to an announcement I have to share: What you are reading is my final regular column in The Bakersfield Californian.
As some of you know, my “day job” is as a public affairs and campaign consultant. I’m fortunate that I get to live in Bakersfield and work remotely for a firm based in Sacramento. Things are busy and only getting busier.
I’m eternally grateful to the editors at The Californian for trusting me and valuing both my opinions and writing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have a byline in a daily newspaper.
Lastly, thank you to you, the readers. In today’s era of clickbait and fake news, local journalism is more important than ever. Your support and commitment to our local paper is invaluable.
As President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” There is nothing more important to the sake of our nation than that we use our voices and votes to advance freedom for the next generation.
Contributing columnist Justin Salters writes on politics and current events; the views expressed are his own. Reach him on Twitter @justinsalters or email him your thoughts: email@example.com.