There’s a fair amount of debate on Gristmill about how much green cred to give the Governator — that A-list action hero of enlightened Republicanism.
I don’t follow California politics closely enough to venture an opinion. But I do know that promoting a policy that will result in yet more suburban sprawl and evict small- and mid-sized farmers from their land — all in an effort to save chump change from the state budget — hardly does Schwarzenegger credit.
Masala notes as suburban sprawl “roars into” to farm country, property taxes leap. If farmers get taxed on the value of uses their property could have — say, a nice big-box store with plenty of parking spaces for Governator-style Hummers — then those farmers will likely be forced to sell. It turns out that there’s a lot more money — and hence, in our culture, “value” — in peddling cheap crap made halfway around the world then there is in growing food for people to eat.
Since the 1960s, Masala notes, farmers have been protected by something called the “Williamson Act,” which “helps preserve farms and ranches by allowing those who enroll in the program to have their land taxed at a rate based on actual use, not potential use. The state then compensates cities and counties for the revenue loss.”
And it’s just this program — which costs taxpayers $40 million in an overall budget of $145 billion — at which the Governator is aiming his AK-47.
Masala’s post contains info on how to raise your voice against this absurdity — as well as links to maps depicting the vast swaths of farmland that would face extinction if Schwarzenegger gets his wish, including counties that house some of California’s most celebrated and productive small farms.