Calif. Democrats To Push for Tax Vote, Warn of Effects of Deeper Cuts
Following a breakdown in state budget negotiations, Democratic lawmakers will seek to garner support for a tax extension measure and provide more details on how an all-cuts state budget package would affect health and human services programs, the AP/Ventura County Star reports.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said thatÂ resorting to an all-cuts budget to close the state's remaining $15.4 billion deficit would lead to "increasingly stark" consequences (Williams, AP/Ventura County Star, 3/31).
Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed numerous bills to reduce state spending by $11.2 billion. The measures included deep cuts to several health programs and funding shifts that diverted money away from mental health and childhood development programs.
The governor initially planned to close the remaining budget gap by putting a tax extension measure before voters in a June special election. However, GOP lawmakers refused to provide the necessary votes to put the tax measure on a ballot (California Healthline, 3/31).
Details of Deeper Cuts
Earlier this year, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office released a report that outlined alternative plans to close the remaining budget deficit if the tax extension plan falls through.
In its report, LAO said that health and human services would need to be cut by an additional $1.2 billion. Other cuts could include a 9.2% pay cut for state employees and a 30% increase in public employees' contributions to health care (AP/Ventura County Star, 3/31).
Tax Extension Option
Meanwhile, the governor said he remains committed to putting a measure before voters that would extend billions in temporary taxes, which are scheduled to end July 1. He plans to start campaigning around the state to warn Californians about deeper budget cuts that could be enacted if taxes are not extended (York, Los Angeles Times, 4/1).
Brown also is considering a plan that would place his proposedÂ tax measure on a November ballot instead of the originally proposed June ballot in an effort to bypass the need for GOP support. If Brown fails to place hisÂ tax extension measure on a June ballot, the current tax rates would expire.Â Therefore, aÂ November ballot measure would need to call for an increase -- rather than an extension -- of tax rates.
To put the tax measure on a November ballot, proponents would need to hold a signature drive under a tight deadline. The state attorney general's office first would need to process the proposal for a ballot initiative, and then supporters would need to submit signatures by late MayÂ (California Healthline, 3/23).
Brown has restated his campaign promise to have "no taxes without a vote of the people," even though some Democrats are considering holding a vote in the Legislature on the tax issue (Los Angeles Times, 4/1).
However, Steinberg said he would rather have lawmakers vote on the tax extensions rather than have the tax plan put on a ballot before voters (York, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/31).
Editorials, Opinion Piece Address Budget Situation
Headlines and links to editorials and an opinion piece speaking to California's budget negotiations are provided below.
- "Budget Talks Fail; So Start Cutting" (Orange County Register, 3/31).
- "Brown Still Has Options for Getting Budget Passed" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/31).
- "In California Budget, They All Fall Down" (Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/31).