A key question has raged in California for more than one year, ever since Gov. Jerry Brown first proposed two of his key tactics in the ongoing battle against seemingly perpetual state budget deficits.
That question: Who do tax dollars really belong to? There are also these corollary questions: Are taxes collected by cities the exclusive property of those cities? Do dollars sitting in special state funds earmarked for particular uses belong to all the people, thus implying they could be used for anything state legislators think best?
These questions are in the forefront of debates over state finances today because of the storm over the summertime revelation that the state Parks Department was sitting on more than $30 million in a special off-road vehicle fund, plus another $20 million in its Parks and Recreation Fund even as park units were threatened with closure.
They are valid questions, with good arguments on many sides. For some special funds get their money from virtually all taxpayers and/or utility customers, while others are funded strictly by one type of user...