When asked by a student journalist at today’s press conference what the lead for an article about the potential failure of Proposition 30, continued state divestment from the University of California and the competing tax initiative Proposition 38, Governor Brown replied, “This should be the lead.”
Governor Brown compared California’s budget crisis to a burning house during a press conference with UC newspapers today at UC Los Angeles. Brown addressed student journalists from throughout the UC system and brought light to issues including the competing tax initiative Proposition 38, continued state divestment from the UC and the government’s plan should Proposition 30 fail in the November election.
“If the house is on fire, we got to put the fire out,” said Brown about his current focus on passing Proposition 30 as a way to combat California’s budget crisis, as opposed to additionally focusing on long-term financial goals for the state.
During the press conference, Brown addressed concerns of what the state legislature plans to do should Proposition 30 fail to pass, including whether he would enact the trigger cuts planned for the 2012-2013 budget or if he would push for another tax increase.
“I’d like to think there’s an alternative in case Proposition 30 fails, but there isn’t—the state only has so much money,” said Brown. “When I became governor the deficit was 26 billion. We have cut away at that, billions and billions of dollars, and we’re getting close to balance, but if Proposition 30 doesn’t pass I can’t conjure money out of thin air—there are only so many cookies in the jar, and the gimmicks of the past are not acceptable to going forward. Yes, trigger cuts will go into effect, and they’re part of the budget and it’s automatic.”
Governor Brown also addressed why, to many students, it seems that during a budget crisis education spending is the first expense to be cut.
“It just happens that education is such a huge part of the budget and it is less protected by federal law and so when you have a shortfall, people look to UC and Cal State and K-12 and the community colleges, because that’s more totally within the control of state authority,” said Brown.
However, Brown said that he is working to slow state divestment and reprioritize education spending in future budgets, primarily by working to realign prison populations and reduce the prison population by 40,000 prisoners.
“It’s hard to reduce the prisons too much more, but there’s no easy path whether it’s less money in health and human services, less money for corrections, it’s just a problem,” said Brown.
“There is this need for fundraising,” said Brown on the topic of divestment from the university system and alternative solutions for funding should Proposition 30 fail. “I would like to see the state giving more money but in order to give more money they have to get more money.”
Regardless of the possibility of Proposition 30 failing and the state facing millions of dollars of cuts in January, Brown maintains a positive outlook on the future of California.
“I see California as both a trend setter, but also as a state that deals and grapples with the big issues—inequality, climate change and promoting and handling the innovation that both adds to our quality of life but also undermines our sense of traditional identity,” said Brown. “I think California has to both look to its past and also pave the way for its future.”