Gov. Brown proposes slashing spending, continuing tax hikes


By Jeff Shuttleworth

Bay City News Service

Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that he is proposing to close the state's $25.4 billion budget gap by cutting spending by $12.5 billion and extending temporary tax increases that were enacted under the Schwarzenegger's administration.

The governor's budget proposes total spending of $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year, of which general fund spending accounts for $84.6 billion.

In a news release issued by his office, Brown said he is proposing a cut of 8 to 10 percent in take-home pay for most state employees and a "vast and historic" restructuring of government operations.

"These cuts will be painful, requiring sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice," he said.

"For 10 years, we've had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt," he said. "We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth."

He said he is calling for an election in June to ask voters to continue for another five years the temporary tax hikes, which include a 1 cent increase in the state's sales tax, a 0.25 percentage point hike in its income tax and an increase in the vehicle license fee rate.

He said his realignment plan will return decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools and "allow government at all levels to focus on core functions and become more efficient and less expensive" by reducing duplication of services and administrative costs.

The governor said revenue from sales tax and the vehicle license fee will be transferred directly to local governments to finance the first phase of his realignment plan.

Proposed spending reductions include $1.7 billion to Medi-Cal, $1.5 billion to California's welfare-to-work program, $750 million to the Department of Developmental Services, $500 million to the University of California, $500 million to California State University, and $308 million for a reduction in take-home pay for state employees not currently covered under collective bargaining agreements.

Brown's spending plan proposes additional reductions throughout state government, including corrections, the judiciary and resources.

He said the one area of state spending spared from cuts is kindergarten through 12th grade education.

He defended his proposed spending cuts and tax extensions by saying, "Without decisive action, the state's severe budget problems will persist, threatening economic recovery, job growth, public education and the quality of life in California."

"The adoption of this budget will position the state to lead the country as it slowly recovers from the Great Recession," he said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

No surprise we will be asked to extend the 9.0% sales tax in June. But given the profligate spending and insider priorities that have become the norm in Sacramento, the voters will not be eager to support the status quo - including government salaries, work rules and benefits negotiated in the "new economy" era of fantasy budgeting. Like a household that took out every credit card offered in the mail and ran them up to max, our so called leaders have been flat irresponsible, largely with unfundable pension promises to state employees.

Personally, I wouldn't vote for new taxes until AFTER I've seen reform completed in Sacramento; if Mr Brown and friends want a majority of voters to underwrite the bad behavior of state government past, we at the minimum deserve assurances that we are not just propping up the system that got us into this budget disaster: extending the "temporary" taxes must be conditioned on the successful restructuring of current state employee costs. (What Governor Schwartzenegger negotiated in October is only for new hires.) I'll add that, if a special election is called and fails, the millions of dollars it costs to hold that election will be on Mr Brown's shoulders.

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