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Community Advocates: Brown's Budget Is Filled With 'Horrific Choices'

Danny Lee |
May 14, 2012 | 4:39 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to help California recover from its budget woes (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to help California recover from its budget woes (Paresh Dave/Neon Tommy)
Gov. Jerry Brown called for California to make deeper cuts to health and social service programs on Monday, as he outlined a revised budget proposal that would slash more than $8.3 billion from California’s budget.

Brown's plan would cut $1.2 billion from Medi-Cal and $2 billion out of education. In addition, state workers would be asked to take a 5 percent pay cut to help California close its budget gap. Public schools and higher education could suffer even further if voters in the state do not approve an initiative in November to increase income and sales taxes, Brown said.

The announcement came just two days after Brown revealed that the state's deficit had swelled to $16 billion. That figure nearly doubled the $9.2 billion deficit projected in January when he released his initial budget proposal for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

"Tax receipts are coming in lower than expected. And the federal governments and the courts have blocked us from making billions in necessary budget reductions," Brown said in a YouTube video posted online over the weekend.

California Partnership, a statewide coalition devoted to reducing poverty, held a rally at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles Monday afternoon, where Brown was answering questions from the media. Astrid Campos, one of the event organizers, said the cuts would be detrimental to children, seniors and people with disabilities.

"We're protesting the devastating cuts and asking for there to be another way to balance the budget instead of on the backs of the most vulnerable," Campos said.

Under the governor’s budget-balancing proposal, CalWORKS would lose $880 million in funding, childcare services would lose about $450 million and in-home supportive services would lose roughly $225 million.

“Governor Brown’s budget is filled with horrific choices that will gut our social safety net and hurt programs that help Californians get back to work. Slashing billions from health and human services is detrimental and even antithetical to California’s recovery,” California Partnership Director Vanessa Aramayo said in a statement.

To offset the cuts, Brown made a pitch to voters to support a tax increase initiative on November's ballot that would go toward funding K-12 schools and community colleges.

"I'm linking the serious budget reductions with a plea to the voters, please increase taxes temporarily," Brown said at a morning news conference.

Under the tax proposal, residents earning between $250,000 and $300,000 would pay 10.3 percent in income taxes as opposed to the previous rate of 9.71 percent. The rate would become 11.3 percent for earners making between $350,000 and $500,000, and 13.3 percent for those making $1 million or more. The income tax increases on the wealthy would be in place for seven years.

"Someone who is making $40,000 a year is paying the same [tax rate] as Kim Kardashian," Campos said.  The reality TV star allegedly paid 10.3 percent income tax on the $12 million she made in 2010.

Brown also tackled the issue of California's sales tax and proposed raising it to 7.5 percent from 7.25 percent for a period of four years. If the tax increase measure fails, K-12 schools and community colleges would receive roughly $5.5 billion less funding, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"We can't fill a hole of this magnitude with cuts alone without doing severe damage to our schools," Brown said in his YouTube message.

Campos said that Brown’s tax increase plan would help solve the state’s budget issues, but she would like to see California do more to increase its corporate tax rate. She suggested that the cuts to programs assisting the state's needy would not be necessary if the corporate tax rate were higher than the current 8.84 percent.

"Corporations in California get so many sweet deals," Campos said. "There's corporate loopholes, there's a lot of tax breaks that they get and they're just not paying their fair share."

She urged voters to head out to the ballot and support the tax increases in November.

"We need to vote 'yes' on that revenue initiative to raise taxes on the wealthy," Campos said. "Even if you're not being impacted, your community around you is being impacted."

The state Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget. The governor's revised budget plan can be viewed here.

Reach Staff Reporter Danny Lee here, or follow him here.



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