It’s no secret that the U.S. national debt is out of control and getting worse. The Congressional Budget Office projects that our debt-per-year could reach $1 trillion by 2020. More frightening is the “debt is projected to grow faster than the economy — forever.”
The debt problem isn’t only at the federal level. States are spending excessively and unwisely as well, and there’s no better example of where this is happening than California.
Jerry Brown claims he put California in better financial standing during his last eight years as governor, and yet the state has added over $200 billion in debt over the last decade, overlapping Gov. Brown’s tenure.
Consider California’s recent public transportation boondoggles. Los Angeles County plans to build an extension to LA Metro’s Purple Line and has begun construction on Section 2 of the project, connecting downtown Los Angeles to Century City. Section 2 has been a problem since the original route under the public right of way was moved 800 feet to go through residential areas and underneath the famed Beverly Hills High School.
This new route travels through unmapped underground oil fields filled with deadly methane gas, posing serious health risks to the students and others. The noise from the construction will interrupt students’ studies and vibrations from the operational subway will forever hurt student learning and reduce property values.
Subways are supposed to be straight and fast, but this new route not only meanders through pockets of explosive gases, but it also is slower, longer, less safe and will reduce ridership, all to seemingly accommodate a Chicago real estate company that has supported members of the Metro Board and thrown birthday parties for President Obama.
ermore, the Metro Board can’t even say this new route saves taxpayers’ money, as Section 2, which now runs under a high school, will cost taxpayers more than $400 million over the faster original route.
When California is over a trillion dollars in debt, how does Los Angeles justify spending an extra $400 million on a route that is less safe, hurts students’ education, and is unwanted by the community? The answer is they can’t.
So why don’t the residents in Beverly Hills push back against Section 2? They have. The school district has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Transit Administration and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Lisa Korbatov, a well-known California conservative and former Beverly Hills School Board president, ran an effort to stop the Purple Line from threatening the health of students and teachers. But when the community came to Metro to address their concerns, most Metro Board members refused to show up. They even struggled to find a quorum, and once they got one, many then left. The bottom line is they don’t care.
California conservatives have faced similar scenarios in the Golden State. Recently Gov. Gavin Newsom had to step in and scale back a high-speed rail or “bullet-train” project that had figuratively gone off the rails. The original proposal for the project cost the state $33 billion and was to be completed by 2020. Then the estimate for the project ballooned to $77 billion, with the completion date pushed backed to 2033.
Staring down mounting costs and delays, Gov. Newsom had no choice but to scale back the project. Now, only the first 171-miles of the originally planned 520-mile project will be completed, which makes no sense. California taxpayers should be irate at the wasteful spending and its government’s mismanagement.
Thankfully, we have a president in the White House who takes wasteful spending seriously and has just proposed a budget that makes big cuts to domestic spending.
as President Trump correctly intervened in the LA to San Francisco bullet-train fiasco, pulling federal funding for the project, I am confident President Trump will pull the federal funding from other ill-conceived and corrupt programs such as the Purple Line in Los Angeles.
All states and localities should take note that wasting federal dollars will not be tolerated. With Donald Trump now holding the reins, we expect the Fed to use their power to rein in state spending if the states won’t do it themselves.
• Robert Graham is the former chairman of the Republican Party of Arizona and served as a senior adviser to the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.