Brown seeks 5-year extension of Calif taxes

File- Gov. Jerry Brown gestures as he addresses the audience after he was sworn-in as the 39th Governor of California during ceremonies in Sacramento, Calif. Monday, Jan. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

January 10, 2011 6:36:46 PM PST
Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget Monday that would slash funding to most areas of state government and maintain a series of tax increases for five years to close California's huge budget deficit.

Brown wants to end any accounting gimmicks and other budget tricks that have characterized the previous spending plans. The newly elected Democrat doled out some tough medicine that nearly every California will have to swallow to solve the projected $26 billion budget deficit.

"It's not going to get better unless we do something," he said.

Brown unveiled a budget proposal with a mix of deep cuts, an extension of temporary tax hikes and a historic restructuring of government operations.

"What I propose will be painful. It's going to take sacrifice from every sector of California," he said.

The $12.5 billion in spending cuts include:

  • $1.7 billion from Medi-Cal, making patients fork out co-pays and limiting doctor visits.
  • $1.5 billion from CalWORKs, reducing lifetime benefits from five years to four years.
  • $1 billion hit to UC and CSU campuses.
  • Up to 10 percent pay cut for state workers not in collective bargaining agreements.
The cuts already drew protests and one sign likened Brown to Schwarzenegger's twin, proclaiming their budgets were similarly drastic. CalWORKs mom Jasmine Frazier cried at the thought of losing her welfare benefits.

"I voted for him, Gov. Brown. I just knew that because he is a Democrat, everything was going to be OK, he can't be as bad as Arnold," she said.

But with the state finances still in shambles, Brown has little choice. He is, though, trying to stave off even deeper cuts by asking voters in June to extend the 2009 temporary sales, income and car tax hikes by another five years. That is something voters rejected once before, but that would bring in $12 billion a year. Republicans are set to block the move to it on the ballot.

"Frankly, I haven't seen anything demonstrated to me that would show we'd be any more responsible with the taxpayers' money than we have been in the last few years," Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said.

Brown touts that he didn't propose any cuts to K-12 public schools, which are basically getting the same amount of money as they did last year. But Brown proposes that $2 billion in funding be deferred next year and schools believe they'll never see the money and consider it a cut.