Monday, January 9, 2012

California Governor's Budget Relies on Voters to Raise Taxes

Taken from
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on January 5 proposed a fiscal 2013 budget that relies on voters approving increases in the sales and individual income taxes to prevent $5.4 billion in cuts to education and public safety.
"Because we're going to assume that we're going to get the temporary income tax and the temporary sales tax, we have to put in some trigger cuts or the budget wouldn't be balanced, wouldn't be financeable," Brown said in a press conference.
On December 5, Brown filed a ballot initiative calling for a half-cent increase in the state sales tax rate and new individual income tax rates and brackets for those making more than $250,000. 
Asked if he planned to cut the education funding levels required by Proposition 98 if voters reject his tax increase ballot initiative, Brown said that he wouldn't have to and that funding requirements decline with tax revenues. Proposition 98, approved by voters in 1988, requires the state to spend about 40 percent of the budget on K-12 education and community colleges.
Without the tax increases, the Proposition 98 funding mandate would decline by over $4.8 billion -- about the cost of three weeks of instruction -- according to budget summary documents. Brown's budget proposal includes other trigger cuts, such as $200 million each from the University of California and California State University, and $125 million from the courts, "the equivalent of court closures of three days per month."
Lawmakers may want to find other last-ditch cuts, according to a news story in The Sacramento Bee. The newspaper quoted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) as saying he agreed with the need for trigger cuts, but that his colleagues would want to "debate, discuss and analyze what those trigger cuts should be."