Gov. Brown's Budget Promises Major Cutbacks
According to sources speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Brown’s budget proposal calls for more cuts in state health and welfare programs, community beautification funding, and the state’s already beleaguered prisons.
On Friday, he announced that he spent only $120,000 on his transition into office, saving the state $650,000. Added to cuts he's already announced in recent days--shaving $4.5 million off his office budget and eliminating the $1.9 million Secretary of Education office--Brown has chopped off $7.05 million from the state budget, his office says.
It will mean doing away with a temporary inspector general for stimulus funds six months early, cutting back his press and D.C. lobbying offices and closing field offices in San Diego, Fresno and Riverside.
All of this appears to be, as Brown described in his inauguration speech, “a tough budget for tough times.”
K-12 funding, however, may be spared major cuts, provided that Californians agree to extend expiring tax hikes. That choice could appear before voters in a special election in June.
Even getting ballots in front of the voters will be a tough sell for the Democrat. For the election to take place there needs to be a two-thirds approval from the legislature, and that would require bipartisan support.
During the election, nearly all the state’s Republican lawmakers signed a pledge to oppose any new taxation. And anti-tax groups say that a vote allowing for the special election, even in the hopes that it fails, is a betrayal of that pledge.
“If you're going to put something on the ballot, then you're voting for whatever it is substantively that you're trying to get on the ballot,” John Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Tax Payers association told KGO.
Regardless of the vote, there are fewer glimmers of hope for the state’s university systems. One year after former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spared them any major cuts, Brown will likely slash their funding.
Over the next 18 months the upcoming budget deficit will swell up to $28 billion dollars . While previous California budgets have provided temporary solutions, they have relied on the most hopeful projections of state income, thereby deferring most difficult decisions.
Brown spoke out strongly against those tactics during the election, and promised in his inauguration speech a governorship that had “no smoke and mirrors.”
It was a message of straightforward austerity that appealed to state voters last November. Come Monday, the state will get to see just how that hot dog is made.
Reach reporter Tom Dotan here.