California enters the new year on its knees with billions of dollars in underfunded pension programs, a stinted K-12 education system, millions of people on welfare who can't afford health care and a failed prison system.

I recently read where the Department of Corrections is buying millions of dollars in scanners, secret security cameras and other sophisticated electronic equipment to stop people from bringing in cell phones to our prisons. Why not vet visitors, prison guards and anyone else entering our prisons, and save the state millions by not buying all this sophisticated gadgetry?

The latest recidivism rate for inmates returning to prison in California is 55.4 percent. When more than 50 percent of the inmates returning to prison, the methods used by the Department of Corrections to deter inmates from being repeat offenders aren't working.

Another spending headache is bloated state and county pensions that are underfunded by billions. These bloated packages should be reined in quickly.

Throwing billions of dollars on a less than successful K-12 education system without accountability is again a waste of tax dollars.

Monies saved on these aforementioned programs and others should be diverted to highway projects that at least would benefit all of us. Private contractors could be hired to fix our crumpling highways like Highway 58. If you drive to Bakersfield, and stay in that outside lane, you know what I'm talking about.

California is in a spending crisis and it would take people who have gumption to restore order. I see no one at the Capitol willing to make a stand now and anytime soon. Reform of any kind is a thankless job, but necessary. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd like to see the voters in this state "drain the swamp" in Sacramento.

Dennis Tope, Tehachapi