Legislative Analyst: Brown’s Plan Shows Promise, Involves Risks
On Wednesday, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor released a report generally praising Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) budget proposal, but warning that the plan involves significant risks, the Sacramento Bee reports (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/13).
Brown's Budget Proposal
The governor's budget plan aims to address California's estimated $25.4 billion deficit over 18 months by imposing a wide range of spending cuts and making changes to several health and human services programs.
Brown also plans to ask voters to extend billions of dollars in recent hikes on income, sales and vehicle taxes that are set to expire this year (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 1/13).
Analyst Sees Promise in Plan
Taylor called Brown's budget proposal a "very good starting point,"Â noting thatÂ the planÂ makes reasonable assumptions about California's economy and the demand for state services.
The non-partisan analyst also said the plan includes numerous provisions that are ongoing or long-term, in contrast with previous budgets that included several one-time or limited-termÂ solutions (Sacramento Bee, 1/13).
However, Taylor said the governor is taking a significant risk by relying on voters to approve tax extensions in a June special election. In a May 2009 special election, voters rejected a shorter extension of the tax increases.
Taylor also said cuts to health programs such as Medi-Cal likely will lead to court challenges. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The state currently is fighting a lawsuit challenging previous cuts to Medi-Cal payments for health care providers. Brown's proposal would further cut Medi-Cal payment rates to reduce state spending by $719 million over 18 months (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/13).
In addition, Taylor questioned whether Brown would be able to follow through on his proposal to access $861 million in Proposition 63 mental health funds without putting the issue before voters. Voters rejected a similar measure in 2009 (Sacramento Bee, 1/13).
Taylor agreed with an earlier statement from Brown indicating that schools might face significant funding cuts if voters reject tax extensions in the June special election.
The analyst added that health care programs also could face further funding reductions if the tax extensions fail.
Taylor said, "I don't want to say there's nothing else we can do in health and social services. There's some pretty tough reductions already, so they would be even more difficult. But I would hate at this point to take anything off the table" (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 1/12).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the Taylor's budget analysis are provided below.
- "Legislative Analyst: Brown Budget 'A Good Starting Point'" (Russ, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/12).
- "Fiscal Analyst Calls Brown's Budget More Straightforward Than Most" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/12).
- "California's Fiscal Analyst for the Legislature Gives Brown's Budget High Marks" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/12).