There are no fortune tellers at PRI, but it isn’t hard to foresee what is likely to happen in California in 2018.
First, it’s a sure bet that the Legislature will pass a boxcar load of unneeded, heavy-handed and odious policies when lawmakers reconvene on Jan. 3. One that will stand out is Assemblyman Phil Ting’s proposal to essentially criminalize gasoline- and diesel-powered automobiles. The San Francisco Democrat’s proposal will make carbon-phobes happy everywhere. Should it become law, it would, starting in 2040, bar the California Department of Motor Vehicles from registering new cars and trucks that burn fossil fuels. It will be interesting to see how much resistance the bill gets — if any at all — from lawmakers.
Another act of legislative malfeasance that will erupt next year is Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon’s plan to cut off all electricity in the state that is generated by power plants emitting carbon dioxide by Dec. 31, 2045. It hit a political snag toward the end of the last session, but it will be back because it’s consistent with this state’s obsession with loudly fixing problems that don’t exist while ignoring those that do.
Expect, as well, another run at establishing a statewide single-payer health care program, no matter how much it would cost and how poorly it would perform.
Second, more useless and often damaging bills will be passed, while legislation that is actually needed will be ignored. These proposals include tax reform (much lower rates and a broader base) which is more important than ever in the coming era of the Trump tax cuts; an honest overhaul of the California Environmental Quality Act that would ignite a homebuilding boom; regulatory relief to soften the state’s hostility toward job creation; and a recalibration of the public employee pension system that’s not bent and twisted by union strong-arming, and in a way that’s fair for both taxpayers and workers.
Third, the Trump “resistance” will continue. It will certainly be an exercise in virtue signaling. But it will also lead to a deeper entrenchment of the failed Blue State model and those “California values” that cause trouble for those outside the state’s elitist bubble.
And fourth, the voters will send another Democrat back to the governor’s office, and continue the Democrats’ comfortable majorities in both of Sacramento’s legislative chambers. Most Californians pride themselves on their commitment to diversity, but when it comes to politics, few have any enthusiasm for diversity of thought. Nonconformists have been largely unwelcomed for decades. That will still be the reality in 2018.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.