Gov. Jerry Brown has managed to accomplish something in his first few weeks in office that took his predecessor years to accomplish: He’s infuriated many of the state’s Republicans and Democrats at the same time.
Brown released his budget proposal on Jan. 10, and it was a doozy. It calls for $12.5 billion in cuts and a five-year extension of income and sales taxes and vehicle licensing fees that were scheduled to expire this year to fill a deficit of $25 billion.
“It’s best to take our medicine now and get the state on a balanced footing,” Brown said when he presented his budget.
The plan’s cuts are drastic and come down hard on the disadvantaged. If approved, the budget would scale down Medi-Cal and cut welfare by eliminating some grants and childcare for 11- and 12-year-olds. Payments for low-income elderly, blind, and the disabled would be reduced to the federal minimum. Deep cuts would be made to regional centers that care for the developmentally disabled. State foster care would be eliminated for 18- and 19-year-olds transitioning into adult life.
Both the California State University and University of California systems would have their budgets slashed again. Libraries and many state parks would lose much of their state funding. State employees not under contract would face a 10 percent reduction in pay. Brown’s budget also calls for the elimination of redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones.
Funding for kindergarten through 12th grade schools is one of the few areas that remains relatively untouched by Brown’s proposed budget.
Brown also said he’s planning to shift many government responsibilities to local governments, a 180-degree reverse of the centralization effort he began as governor in the late ’70s. On the revenue side of things, the governor would like to bring a $12 billion tax extension to a public vote in the summer. It would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to get it on the ballot. Most state house Republicans seem dead set against the idea of a tax extension.