Legislature Passes Budget With Billion-Dollar Holes and Ticking Tax Time Bomb

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The California Senate and Assembly each passed a $92.1 billion budget Friday, beating a midnight constitutional deadline but leaving unanswered a number of questions about how it will be paid for.

Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill, whose party unanimously voted against the budget, mixed his metaphors but not his message that Democrats made a big mistake counting on anticipated new taxes later in the year. “This is a slow motion train wreck and you're driving the bus,” he said. “You think the voters are going to give you your tax increase come November and all you offer them is this sham.”

Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for an intiative on the November ballot to raise $5.9  billion by temporarily raising the sales tax and increasing taxes on the wealthy. If rejected, the state would slash billions from education. Democrats held back nearly two dozen trailer bills that deal with key social service issues like the welfare-to-work program, Cal Grants for college students and child care.

Brown, who can veto all or part of the budget, is expected to continue negotiations with the Legislature over adjustments to their plan. The governor is also negotiating with  unions over his proposal to cut the public employee payroll by 5%.  

As it stands, the budget hacks $428 million for CalWORKS, the state’s welfare program, reduces state-backed child support $240 million and reduces funding for In-Home Supportive Services by $90 million. Health programs like Medi-Cal would be cut $1 billion, with much of the savings coming from shifting low-income seniors and people with disabilities to managed care. It also anticipates a recovering economy will reduce costs. Savings in the criminal justice system would come from court-ordered reductions in the prison population and up to half a billion dollars in court budget cuts.

State parks received a reprieve of sorts—70 were scheduled for closure this summer—after lawmakers proposed shifting motor vehicle registration fees and federal funds for water improvements, and encouraged the collection of additional user fees.

–Ken Broder

To Learn More:

California Legislature Approves $92.1-Billion Budget (by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times)

Specifics of California's Budget Cuts (by Chris Megerian and Anthony York, Los Angeles Times)

Democrats Send California Budget Bill to the Governor (by Steven Harmon, Bay Area News Group)

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