Gov. Brown's state budget blueprint -- released hastily after a staffing snafu -- offers cuts, cuts and more cuts. And even more cuts still if voters don't approve new taxes. It's going to be a long year.
From Bloomberg's Michael B. Marois and Jim Nash: "Governor Jerry Brown proposed a budget that would lop off the equivalent of three weeks from the public school year if voters reject his proposal for $7 billion in temporary tax increases."
"The $92.6 billion spending plan Brown unveiled yesterday for the year that starts in July boosts spending by 7 percent from the current year, even though the state faces a $9.2 billion deficit. The increase is to be financed through economic growth (BCAX), higher income taxes on those making at least $250,000 a year and expanded sales levies."
"Brown, a 73-year-old Democrat who approved $16 billion in cuts last June, said the state would have to slash another $4.8 billion from education if voters fail to approve his tax plan at the polls in November. The largest U.S. state by population has perennial budget crises and Standard & Poor’s worst credit rating among its peers."
Health and social services, perennial targets when it comes to finding areas to cut, are under the knife again.
From HealthyCal's Dan Weintraub: "The state’s health and social safety net for its poorest residents would be slashed even if voters approve a tax increase that Gov. Jerry Brown proposes for the November ballot, Brown said Thursday as he released his spending blueprint for the coming year."
"And if the voters reject new taxes, he said, California’s schools and universities would go on the chopping block. Brown’s budget includes deep cuts in welfare, Medi-Cal and home-based services for the disabled, which he wants to enact as soon as possible, and threatens a huge reduction to education – the equivalent of three weeks of classes — if voters reject a proposed increase in the sales tax and income tax in November."
“We are making some very painful reductions,” Brown told reporters at the Capitol.”This is not nice stuff, but that’s what it takes to balance the budget."
The budget also makes cuts in the state workforce, combines some agencies and eliminates others. The Bee's Jon Ortiz tells the tale.
"Brown's budget plan reduces the number of state agencies -- cabinet-level organizations that oversee departments -- from 12 to 10. Brown also wants to eliminate 39 state entities and wipe out nine state programs."
"Brown wants to ax the California Volunteer Agency. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named the first secretary to the agency in 2008 to "encourage volunteerism in California and to improve coordination of volunteer efforts between the state's departments and agencies," according to the volunteer agency's website. The agency's functions (and federal funding) are proposed to continue through the Office of Planning and Research."
"The California Emergency Management Agency which prepares for a responds to emergencies, would also vanish under Brown's plan by reducing it to an office that reports directly to the governor."
And speaking of cuts, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, the insurer of last resort for workers compensation insurance, is eliminating some 484 jobs in the Bay Area.
From George Avalos in the Contra Costa Times: "State Compensation Insurance Fund will eliminate 484 jobs in the Bay Area by April, part of an overall reduction of slightly more than 1,400 jobs statewide, the insurer said Thursday."
"In the Bay Area, the hardest hit locations will be Pleasanton, where 256 jobs will be eliminated, and Vacaville, which will lose 130. Thirty-six jobs will be cut in San Jose, while the Santa Rosa area will lose 60 and Stockton will lose 57. Most of the eliminated positions are office and clerical jobs."
"The ultimate goal is to operate more efficiently," said Jennifer Vargen, a spokeswoman for State Fund, which sells insurance to employers to cover workers who are injured on the job."
"State Fund is being squeezed because it hasn't been able to slash operating costs quickly enough to cope with its declining share of the workers' comp market. State Fund is a quasi-government entity but receives no taxpayer funding. It generates its revenue by selling insurance premiums."
Meanwhile, state Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said the talk of cuts, especially to health and welfare services, was premature. The Bee's Torey Van Oot tells the tale.
"California's top Senate Democrat today shut the door on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal to make deep cuts to social services programs in the first few months of the year."
"The January spending plan unveiled by Brown today includes nearly $1.4 billion in cuts to the state's welfare-to-work and subsidized child care programs. The Democratic governor called on lawmakers to approve those cuts in March to maximize savings."
"But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, echoing comments made Wednesday, said he wants to hold off on further spending reductions in hopes that the state will see an uptick in revenues this spring."
"Why would we make cuts that are going to harm people and harm the economy in March when in fact in May there's a real not just possibility, but if the trend continues, a probability that the deficit number is going to be less," the Sacramento Democrat told reporters, pointing to improvement in a revenue forecast made in December."