Governor: Tax hikes needed for $16B budget gap

May 14, 2012 7:29:33 PM PDT
Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget is on the table -- some will like it and some will not. His challenge is to deal with a bigger-than-expected deficit of nearly $16 billion.

"I'm laying out some pretty tough cuts," said Brown.

Brown broke the bad news to Californians -- the state's financial picture has worsened since his original budget proposal in January.

"We're going to have to cut deeper, but cutting alone really doesn't do it and that's why I'm linking these serious budget reductions, real increased austerity with a plea to the voters: please increase taxes temporarily," said Brown.

Thanks mostly to overly optimistic tax projections and the federal government rejecting some of last year's budget cuts, the deficit jumped to $15.7 billion. That forced the governor propose even more cuts which now include: cutting state worker pay by 5 percent, shutting down most state operations for one day a week, and reducing the number of hours seniors and the disabled get at home by 7 percent.

Disabled advocates say cutting their home care even further makes it harder to avoid nursing homes.

"My cooking, cleaning and bathing would be affected. I would get less services, which those services are vital to me staying at home," said Michelle Rousey, a disabled advocate from Oakland.

State engineers don't want to see small paychecks.

"I don't think anyone wants to take a pay cut, particularly when our members see their work being outsourced to private firms at more than twice the cost," said Bruce Blanning from the group Professional Engineers in California Government.

The $8 billion in cuts is double the cuts Brown originally proposed earlier this year. Major reductions to the Medi-Cal healthcare program, welfare and subsidized childcare are still on the table, reminding protesters Brown is like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tamra Loomis, from Pittsburg, wouldn't be able to work if the state didn't take care of her child.

"Yeah, I would have to go back on welfare and the money that the state pays for my childcare is way less than the money would be for me to get onto welfare," said Loomis.

If California voters do not approve the governor's temporary tax hike on the high income earners and the sales tax, public schools are slated to be cut at least $5.5 billion, which is equivalent to shortening the school year by another three weeks. Tax opponents say that's just a scare tactic.


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