Good luck trying to get your arms–and your head–around the enormity of California’s economy. Last month, the state’s 2015 gross domestic product (GDP: a measure of goods and services) was calculated at $2.46 trillion. That’s trillions, folks, with nine zeros–as in nine shutout innings from Clayton Kershaw, nine Oscar losses suffered by Peter O’Toole and Harrison Ford, or nine months without rain in an area that not so long ago was mired in a historic drought.
This spring saw the routine preparations for the annual May Revision of California’s proposed state budget disrupted by the political bargaining required to raise the gas tax for the first time in 23 years. In the midst of that unusual political scene, the Hoover Institution’s Golden State Poll surveyed Californians about their economic well-being and their opinions on economic policies that impact the nation-state’s global-sized GDP including infrastructure spending and a possible revisit of the property-tax limiting Proposition 13.
Soon before his presidency reached its 100-day mark, Trump addressed a major campaign promise by offering his vision for tax reform. The Trump plan promises to cut rates, slash loopholes, and simplify the tax code. As more details of the plan emerge, however, the president will learn a lesson familiar to countless would-be reformers: tax reform is easy on paper and nearly impossible in reality.
If Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown’s greatest legacy is the physical and intellectual infrastructure of highways, water systems, and universities that transformed California to a nation-state and a global economic force, his son, Governor Jerry Brown, may be remembered best as the guy who tried to fix it all after decades of neglect.