Skyline view of Los Angeles, California by Carol M. Highsmith is in the public domain.

As Americans across the nation shudder to watch gas prices climb above $5, such prices are a bargain to Californians. Often a punchline when discussing failed progressive policies, the state of California continues to stand out as an especially bad state for taxpayers. While one may point to numerous reasons for this, a recurrent theme is their fundamental inability to understand basic economic principles. To combat rising inflation, driven primarily by supply chain constrictions and rampant spending, California lawmakers struck a deal to send checks of upwards of $1,050 to eligible Californians

California ended the fiscal year with nearly 100 billion dollars in surplus, enough to envelop the entire budgets of many other states combined. Sending at least some of this money back to the taxpayers is understandable, but California Democrats seem to have forgotten the root causes of inflation in the first place. The federal government spent the past two years sending stimulus checks and paying people not to work. People were often making more money unemployed, yet some continue to blame corporate greed for the current economic crisis. Instead of addressing any of the underlying issues driving inflation, California lawmakers are engaging in an election-year gimmick that employs the very mechanism—stimulus checks—that largely drove this economic crisis. 

California should leave money in the hands of taxpayers, but such policies must be effected with prudence and thought. Instead of sending Californians blank checks that would only heighten demand and worsen the problem, California lawmakers would do well to cut tax rates and implement structural, long-term tax reform. Such reforms could help bolster the economy in the long run without contributing to the inflation crisis. They could also cut stifling and burdensome regulations that contribute to the state’s egregiously high fuel prices.  

While actual tax relief could limit the government’s power and restrict its ability to impose its will, sending free money scores political points without critical thought as to long-term and lasting solutions or limiting the power of government officials. Given the options, it is unsurprising that California lawmakers would choose the latter to bolster themselves at the long-term expense of their electorate. Californians should take care not to fall victim to the myth that there are inflationary solutions to inflationary problems. The new budget is nothing more than a stunt that will only worsen economic outcomes in the long run rather than effecting real relief. Californians deserve better than band-aid solutions.