We will soon be spending more than we will be taking in on court construction?

Posted on August 19, 2013


“Soon, we will be spending more on court construction than we will be taking in”

I know I saw this statement recently in a news article and as I recall, it was made by the AOC’s newest finance wizard. I guess it took a few days to sink in and realize that when the judicial branch spends more than it takes in that the money has to come from somewhere as the AOC hasn’t yet fired up its copy center to start printing cash, though I surely  wouldn’t put it past them.

No, this statement looks like the next big thing in judicial branch boondoggles because the branch should never even come close to spending more than they are taking in in for court construction. Initially, that overage will come out of maintenance and operations of the buildings resulting in accelerated decay of current assets. That probably represents the reason that the AOC has all of those maintenance people defining processes and tossing new gantt and flow charts every other day so that it at least appears that they’re earning their keep since routine maintenance continues to be neglected. And where do you think the money will come from after that?

Once the amount of maintenance monies are hijacked, rest assured that our fearless leaders at the AOC will go back to the legislature and suggest a doubling of the current court construction fees tacked on to every infraction as a way to fill the already significant two billion dollar maintenance gap and to replenish the AOC for their two billion dollar long beach boondoggle.

Actually, there is already an ill wind blowing about Sacramento over this very issue and AOC lobbying for more construction cash has already commenced under the auspices of (construction) budget restoration so that our citizens have access to justice.

This in the eyes of the Judicial Council and the AOC represents their contribution to access to justice – new courthouses that no one can afford to staff. New maintenance obligations for which there is no budget. New AOC employees to oversee neglect. Much like the department of health services does with their drug medi-cal program. Much like the state has done with Prop. 63 mental health funding. Much like the high speed rail initiative that promised we wouldn’t have a train to nowhere.  Much like the Bay Bridge whose initial 1.3 billon estimated costs rose to 6.4 billion in actual costs. 

Now Governor Moonbeam is looking to spend another 25 billion dollars diverting fresh water from north of Sacramento to the peripheral canal to the state water project. While it might seem great for those who live in the Cadillac Desert, lets face reality and point out that the project will cost twice to four times as much as projected because this is par for the course. It will also result in increased salinity of the delta and affect everyone in Northern California who sources their water from the delta. Hundreds of lawsuits have thus been filed.

All of these things have a few thing in common: A lack of effective state management. People pushing through pet projects without fully vetting them. A failure to identify the funding sources for continued construction, maintenance and operations of new state assets. A marked lack of independent oversight and accountability at any level. A marked lack of checks and balances.

It might not be readily apparent that all of this translates into unfunded liabilities to the state and its taxpayers and is added onto other unfunded liabilities, like your state pension. One only has to look at cities like Vallejo, San Bernardino, Stockton and Detroit to predict that end-game if you happen to be a state worker reliant upon a state pension currently or some day…

Managerial competence and overblown managerial salaries tends to be an issue often taken up by unions only in what we think of as labor\management skirmishes around contract negotiating time. It appears that what investigative media is left in California perpetually harps upon it. One has to wonder when the siren call blows like it has on the projects and in the cities identified above and in cities like Bell, California, with Calpers expected to soon pay out more than it takes in, why isn’t more being done to fight these boondoggles? Is there a case of willful blindness on behalf of all of those who rely upon an unfunded liability to keep them comfortable in retirement? Do they know that their pensions compete with all other unfunded liabilities? Have they seen what happens when a government entity goes insolvent?

Bankruptcy discards unfunded taxpayer liabilities. Personally, I would rather that be a 2.4 billion dollar courthouse or 2 billion dollars worth of CCMS vaporware that is discarded than my retirement nest egg.

So where do we go from here?

Related Articles:

Time to improve California’s spotty record of overseeing big projects (Dan Walters, SacBee)