Jerry Brown proposes billions in cuts. Are Californians getting his message?
With California's budget shortfall soaring, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) proposes broad, painful cuts for state workers and programs. Without new taxes, he warns voters, the cuts will be even worse.
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“The governor has proposed that the legislature fund a $1 billion rainy day fund, but we think it's raining now, and some funds should be used to backfill welfare-to-work programs,” says Ron Coleman, statewide policy analyst for the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Doing this now is antithetical to the recovery that the state needs to get out of this fiscal mess. Historically, California has come back by putting people back to work.”Skip to next paragraph
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People are not taking the news of Brown’s proposals sitting down.
Rallies by several health and human services advocate organizations organized under the Health and Human Services Network of California (HHSNC) are taking place in Riverside, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, and Sacramento.
“The cuts in the revised budget boil down to stark decisions: giving an easy ride to corporations rather than supporting California’s families,” said Vanessa Aramayo, executive director of California Partnership and a leader of HHSNC, in a statement.
“After three years and $15 billion in cuts to vital social programs, it is unconscionable to allow California’s social safety net to be further dismantled at a time when our families need it most.”
The technique of proposing drastic and impossible cuts in an effort to restore funding – in this case tax revenues – is an old one, says Villanova University political science professor John Johannes, in an e-mail.
“The problem in California is the same as it is and has been throughout the world, and certainly in the US,” he says. “Individuals, businesses, governments – everyone – has been living beyond their means for so long, ignoring the consequences, and kicking the can down the road for future generations. There is no simple or easy solution. It is time to pay the piper.”
However transparent Brown’s maneuver, polls show all the furor might actually drive acceptance of Brown’s tax proposal on the November ballot. Brown wants to combine a four-year, quarter-cent-per dollar increase in state sales tax with a seven-year surtax of 1 to 3 percent on Californians making more than $250,000. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll showed 54 percent of Californians support the measure.
The question is how the public responds to the current cuts.
“The governor is probably hoping that the unpleasant news about looming budget cuts will boost support for tax increases. Maybe, but there is another scenario,” says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
“California voters might decide that sending more tax money to Sacramento is like investing in JP Morgan.”
IN PICTURES: Jerry Brown through the years