May 18, 2009
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said the state may have to sell some real estate it owns to raise cash and “balance the budget.” The proposed sales include the Coliseum and the San Quentin state prison.
But a statement by the governor’s own office revealed that the proposed sale has nothing to do with the “budget crisis” the state is supposed to be in. The sales would take two to five years, and would not have any effect whatsoever on the current budget.
Most properties the governor proposes to sell are prime real estate. San Quentin, for example, sits on scenic waterfront near San Francisco – land that would make developers drool. And sure enough, the proposal to sell that land has come before the state legislature four times already – and has been rejected each time. Rejected, because it’s such an obvious rip-off for the state that no politician can justify it: The state would have to close the prison and transfer the prisoners elsewhere, probably building new prisons – all of which would cost the state a lot of money.
And then there are the 11 large state office buildings that Schwarzenegger also wants to sell to raise cash – and then lease back from the new owners. Other states and the federal government have been doing this kind of thing – enriching a few fat cats at the expense of the taxpayers.
No, what Schwarzenegger proposes has nothing to do with “balancing the budget.” He is just trying to do what government officials have been doing for decades: hand out huge gifts to big real estate developers. Apparently, the governor thinks he and his fellow politicians have created enough hype around the fictional “budget crisis” to get away with another taxpayer rip-off.