Little Hoover, big report

by CalWatchdog Staff | February 1, 2010 5:03 pm

Here’s a riddle: When is a well-written, thoroughly researched, eminently rational analysis of the state’s aging, hideously expensive infrastructure completely meaningless?

Answer: when it’s about California.

I’m speaking of the Little Hoover Commission’s latest report. Read it for yourself. It’s called Building California: Infrastructure Choices & Strategy[1], and it’s really something. Thoughtful, with strong arguments and ample evidence, the report makes a compelling case that California is boned when it comes to roads, freeways and aqueducts. Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

“The way California currently spends its infrastructure dollars lacks a long-term vision and a systematic process for prioritizing projects. The administration and the Legislature have not adequately coordinated departments’ activities and their dozens of programs. With the current fiscal crisis only deepening, California’s pattern of borrowing money through general obligation bonds and repaying debt through the General Fund to pay for infrastructure investments will force further spending cuts in healthcare, social services, education and public safety programs. To deliver on its golden promise, California must think harder and spend smarter on the roads, bridges, levees, schools, prisons and canals it builds. And it must take better care of its assets so that they continue to serve the Californians of tomorrow.”

The problem with such a concise breakdown is that it omits one small but crucial fact: the people who run the state — actually write the legislation and pass the bills and such — are nuts. Even if they read the new Little Hoover Commission report, the very best they could do is think about the partisan politics and our state’s budget-crushing deficit and shrug their shoulders. The commission all but acknowledges as much a few paragraphs beyond the above quote:

“The state estimates that in order to have the infrastructure needed to support a thriving, sustainable, competitive economy, California will have to invest $500 billion over the next two decades. The way the state currently funds its infrastructure spending cannot possibly pay for this level of investment.”

Good stuff. The report, not the reality. That’s just too terrifying to comprehend.

-Anthony Pignataro

  1. Building California: Infrastructure Choices & Strategy:

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