In a video address this weekend, Governor Jerry Brown urged Californians to support his new budget proposal. With a nearly $16 billion deficit in the state budget, Brown said that not only spending cuts, but also tax revenue are needed to balance the budget. Brown released his newest proposal at 10 a.m. Monday, May 14, announcing an initiative on the November ballot that he hopes will protect education budgets and public safety by raising tax revenue.
The original 2012-2013 budget estimated the deficit to be $9.2 billion, but this new revision puts the number much higher at $15.7 billion. According to the summary of the budget proposal, the previous proposal overestimated revenue while underestimating education spending from the 1988 Proposition 98, which requires a minimum percentage of the budget to be spent on K-14 education.
Attempting to resolve a state deficit that Brown called a “$16 billion hole,” the new proposal released Monday includes nearly $8.3 billion in spending reductions.
One of the proposed revisions includes implementing minimum performance standards for colleges and universities to participate in the Cal Grant program and ensuring student awards are on a financial-need basis. If the state lacks revenue and deeper cuts are required, Brown proposed an option where the University of California and the California State University will each receive $250 million budget reductions.
While the cuts are dramatic, they only account for half of the revised budget.
“We can’t fill a hole of this magnitude with cuts alone,” said Brown.
Brown asked Californians to vote this November in support of increases on sales tax and income tax on high-income earners who would temporarily pay up to 3 percent more. While sales tax will go up 0.25 percent for four years, Brown says it is still less than the previous sales tax of 2011.
Brown emphasized the importance of avoiding the “gimmicks” of prior budget proposals, which refer to the one-time solutions in budgets that fail to resolve long-term budget problems, and discussed his veto- the first in the state’s history- of the “gimmicky” budget proposal he received last year.
Just hours after its release, critics gathered in person and online to protest the new budget proposal. By 11 a.m. Monday, activists from the Women’s Foundation of California had launched a campaign at the Capitol in Sacramento. The rally, “Stand With Women,” protested cuts to welfare, childcare and community colleges. The Women’s Foundation
hopes the rally will express “the need for a balanced budget that includes wise revenue solutions that benefit California’s economy for generations to come,” according to its website.
Online responses also demonstrated criticism, including Costa Mesa father Bruce Krochman who wrote, “CA in fiscal crisis and yet they pile on more regulations for businesses – Dear God! Save us!”
Krochman further questioned Brown’s choice in cuts, asking, “Why is it that the first thing [Brown] wants to cut is public safety and teachers? Why not legislative pay and welfare?”
Nick and Tony Conservative Talk on blogtalkradio.com spoke for the high income earners expecting to be taxed when they addressed Brown on Twitter: “You think you’re broke! Cut spending because we can’t afford more taxes.”
Despite backlash from all sides, Brown hopes his proposal will solve more problems than it will create.
“I’m laying out some pretty tough cuts,” said Brown at the announcement Monday morning. “This is the best that I can do.”