Californians are starting 2015 with a fresh round of new taxes, and the inauguration of Democrat Jerry Brown for an unprecedented fourth term as California’s governor.

As part of his inaugural address, Brown derided critics of the state’s current economy, and conjured up a fantasy of balanced budgets and robust employment.

“We are at a crossroads,” Brown said in his inaugural address. “With big and important new programs now launched and the budget carefully balanced, the challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative, as our forebears have shown and our descendents would expect.”

However, the true fiscal picture for the Golden State is a little less dreamy:

To Brown, et al, the budget is balanced because it provides enough money to pay the obligations that he and the Legislature choose to pay. But when what they choose not to pay is included, the budget is billions, even tens of billions, of dollars out of balance.
They choose, for instance, not to include a $70-plus billion shortfall in the trust fund that pays teachers’ pensions. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System says it needs another $4.5 billion a year to cover the unfunded liability that’s growing by $20 million a day.

…They also choose not to include a $60-plus billion unfunded liability for the health care of retired state employees and there’s really no way for that debt to be shared. It will be paid, sooner or later, from the state budget – and it, too, is growing by the day.

The drafters of the budget also chose to not include “embezzlement” in their calculations. Legal Insurrection readers may recall what happened in Bell, California, where officials were caught misappropriating $5.5 million from the city in a scandal that the Los Angles Times deemed “corruption on steroids”. Now, the city that hosts New Year’s Day’s famous “Tournament of Roses” is in the midst of an even bigger scandal.

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigators Tuesday arrested a former Pasadena city employee and two other people suspected of using a City Hall slush fund to embezzle more than $6 million in taxpayer dollars over a decade.

Danny Ray Wooten, 51, a preacher, and a former management analyst in the city’s Department of Public Works, was arrested with Tyrone Collins, 55, and Melody Jenkins, 46, a onetime assistant to Wooten. The three are named in a 60-count felony complaint. The allegations include embezzlement, conflict of interest and grand theft.

Twisting the knife in the heart of the citizenry a little deeper, it turns out Wooten…is was a pastor.

Danny Ray Wooten, a Pomona preacher accused of embezzling from Pasadena City Hall, where he was employed, has been stripped of his parsonage, the local head of his denomination said Monday.

…The Southern California Evangelistic Jurisdiction has also begun an audit of its funds to determine if the organization has been scammed in any way.

Perhaps Brown has also conveniently forgotten about all the influential politicians in Sacramento who have been indicted for corruption?

  • Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco was brought up on federal corruption charges, racketeering, and arms dealing. Known as the “California Senate’s Top Gun Control Advocate,” Yee was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on seven federal felonies including bribery, and arms trafficking in illegal firearms and weapons. Yee wasn’t just trafficking in tiny pearl handle pea shooters – he was indicted for being involved in trafficking shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. In addition to being known as one of California’s leading proponents of gun control, Yee was accused of working with Chinatown gangsters and brokering arms deals with a Muslim rebel group based in the Philippines. The FBI case continues for the anti-gun, and gun control advocate.
  • Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, was indicted on federal corruption charges in February. According to the FBI indictment, Calderon allegedly solicited and accepted approximately $100,000 in cash bribes, plane trips, gourmet dinners, and trips to golf resorts, in exchange supporting legislation favorable to those who paid the bribes, and opposing legislation that would be harmful to them. The indictment further alleges that Calderon attempted to convince other public officials to support and oppose legislation.

In another portion of his inaugural address, Brown crows about one million new jobs in the state. However, a closer look at the employment numbers reveals that those positions did not make up for those lost during this “recovery”.

Officially, California’s unemployment rate was 12.3 percent for July, the latest month calculated. That’s bad enough. But the real number is twice as much: at least 25 percent, a Great Depression level…. The U-6 number for California, for the latest year covered, was 21.9 percent. So, it’s 9.9 percentage points higher that the U-3 number — nearly double the official rate…

Perhaps next year, our Governor can participate as part of a “Fantasy Float” in the famous Pasadena parade. He is certainly well-suited for it.