LAO Letter Lays Out The Face Of An All-Cuts Budget –
Republicans are already calling it a ploy to convince legislators to place the tax measure on the ballot, that would cut the needed budget cuts in half.
Democrats are divided on the view as well, with Assembly Speaker John Perez stating that he did not support the Senate’s request for alternative cuts.
The alternative proposal calls for an additional $4.6 billion in cuts including an elimination of the K-3 class size reduction and a requirement that kindergartners be five years old at enrollment which would apparently save $700 million.
The budget would also cut $585 million from Community Colleges which would increase fees from $26/ unit to $66/ unit.
$1.1 billion would be cut for universities which would increase tuition another 7 percent for UC and 10 percent for CSU. At the same time they would reduce CSU enrollment by five percent and reduce personnel costs to CSU by five percent and by ten percent at UC.
The LAO proposes $1.2 billion in cuts to health and social services, including a reduction in the state portion of in-home worker salary to minimum wage, elimination of food and cash aid for noncitiziens for whom courts have determined can receive benefits and stricter income eligibility for welfare-to-work recipients.
The LAO proposes $2.6 billion in cuts to criminal justice. It would require that second and third “strikes” be serious or violent, it would eliminate funding for grant programs funded by the state, it would implement automated speed enforcement cameras, and order two furlough days a month for court employees.
They would cut $1.8 billion from general government including the reduction of state employee pay by an additional 9.24%, two furlough days per month, reduce state contributions to employee health care by 30 percent, the elimination of FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) and state commissions.
Finally, they would cut $1.7 billion to transportation, resources, and environmental protection.
Also proposed is to enact another accounting swap that eliminates sales tax on diesel and raises weight fees, reducing funds for local transit and intercity rail, allow oil drilling at Tranquillon Ridge, off northern Santa Barbara County, and a reduction in wildland firefighting costs by imposing a new fee on residential property owners in areas protected by the state, clarifying that the state is not fiscally responsible for loss of life and property and shrinking territory for which the state is responsible
“While we have recommended in recent years some variation of many of the alternatives provided in this letter, we have had to go far beyond our normal comfort level in order to meet the requested solutions target,” Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor wrote in the memo.
He added, “Some of the listed actions would have serious impacts on individuals, programs and local governments.”
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which has opposed the extension of tax increases, said that there are other ways to solve the budget problem, including cuts to school administration, that would address the shortfall without affecting classrooms.
That is one of the statements that sounds good on paper, but does not fly in the face of reality. Districts like DJUSD have already trimmed their administrative budget and did so several years ago.
The LAO letter comes at the request of Senator Mark Leno. Senator Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle that “the analysis confirms that funding for education and public safety – which largely were spared in Brown’s budget proposal that counts on the tax extensions and increases – would probably be primary sources for additional cuts.”
“What I had asked of the LAO late last month in the Budget Committee is to provide us a universe respectful of federal and state law from which we could potentially cut another $12 billion,” Seantor Leno told the paper. “The numbers speak for themselves.”
Some have suggested that this is a scare tactic and that in the end the voters are used to this form of argumentation. Perhaps they are. But there has to be a recognition that an all-cuts budget will be painful.
Frankly, I am not that thrilled with the idea of another $4.6 billion in cuts to the K-12, and about $1.7 billion in cuts to higher eduction. But some of these are good ideas. Most of the cuts in the criminal justice system other than the furlough days seem almost common sense.
I would like to see the Republicans propose their own all-cuts budget. Politically I know they recognize that they would get skewered on their proposed cuts, but I fail to see how there can be an all-cuts budget without cuts that encompass billions to education, billions to corrections and criminal justice, billions to social services, a reduction of employee salaries and benefits, and other cuts.
Maybe we can get creative on some of the lesser amounts of cuts, for instance eliminating the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and state commissions would only save $17.2 million. Someone may be able to offset those cuts.
Bottom line, the Republicans are crying foul at this but not proposing their own all-cuts budget. Given that they hold the cards still for any two-thirds vote, they do still play a role in this.
—David M. Greenwald reporting