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A modest proposal to balance California's budget

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Eric Risberg / AP

(Read caption) California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown celebrates his election win during a rally with his wife, Anne Gus Brown, in Oakland, Calif. on Nov. 2.

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Does Jerry Brown really want the job? Here are the facts about the budget he will inherit. Apparently his predecessor did him no favors. I expected that a macho man would have stood up and said "hasta la vista public pensions". Anticipating that Jerry Brown listens to economists and cares about what we have to say, permit me to offer some budget balancing ideas. All of these are meant as 1/2 jokes --- I've learned that many readers don't know when I am joking and when I'm not. Strange.

1. Fire all gardeners within the UC System --- each day at UCLA and other UC campuses there are countless facility management guys (I've never seen a woman doing this) using noisy, polluting leaf blowers to blow leaves in random patterns and then create more work for themselves to do it again. It fills the air with dust, bad smells and noise and serves no purpose. Let the leaves fall. Let the grass grow. In fact, get rid of the grass and plant some native plants to save $ on water and upkeep. Just let it go the way Mother Nature wanted it to look.

2. Tax tourists --- California is filled with tourists who come to our great state to have fun. I welcome them but they should pay for the unique experience California offers. The sales tax on their meals and purchases and hotel stays are not sufficient. There should be a "passport" tax for their short trip to see us. I believe that demand is inelastic and they wouldn't substitute to going to Kansas instead. We could charge international tourists a higher short term passport tax than domestic visitors.

3. Bring back the car registration tax and make it an increasing function of the price of vehicle you drive. So, if you drive a $65,000 Mercedes ---- the tax is 1% of its value and you owe $650. If you drive a $2000 1995 Taurus, you owe $20. In a state with 20 million vehicles --- if this tax yields $100 a vehicle this yields $2 billion bucks. Not bad!

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