Some responses to the governor’s speech

From Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda:

“The Governor’s proposal to balance the $24 billion budget shortfall without the use of additional revenues is neither a fair nor realistic solution to the budget crisis. I find it morally objectionable for the Governor’s proposals to specifically cut Cal-Works, Healthy Families, Cal-Grants, In-home service care for the elderly, and even access to State parks. The Governor’s proposal also fails at its intended goals: it fails to address our deficit and it fails to reflect our priorities.

“In this budget year alone, we have instituted $23 billion of cuts, over 20% of our $105 billion budget. These cuts represent a tremendous amount of pain for California, a serious reduction in services to our constituencies, and a reduction in the prosperity of our state.

“Our budget must reflect our priorities. It must reflect what kind of state we want to be. I believe our state should be one that gives priority to children, seniors, and support for working families, all of which requires us to invest in our state. I hope we will look at revenue solutions that are realistic, that help the state support its safety net programs, and that provide Californians with the services they require and demand as they work to bring our state through this economic crisis.”

From State Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley:

“That was Governor Schwarzenegger’s best speech yet. He understands, as I do, that voters sent an undeniably strong message during the special election last month: cut spending, do your job and live within your means with no new taxes. Senate Republicans have been preaching this message of fiscal conservatism for years.

“The Governor understands, as we do, that our options are few. There is no combination of taxes and fees that will close this yawning $24 billion deficit, nor does the legislative will exist to raise taxes again. Raising taxes is not the answer. We cannot borrow our way out of this mess. Banks do not consider California to be a good loan risk, and with our track record of overspending, I can’t blame them. The only option left on the table is to cut spending, reform inefficient government agencies, live within our means and never make the mistake of spending more than we have again.

“Now, let’s get to work!”

More, after the jump…

From Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs:

“When California voters rejected five of the six ballot propositions at the May 19 special election, they did so because they wanted lasting solutions to our budget crisis not temporary fixes crafted without public input.

“We are therefore deeply troubled to hear Governor and the Legislature are proposing to close the budget gap through a particularly reckless and destructive “cuts-only” budget. These cuts will literally hurt and kill people.

“The people of California did not vote to take away dialysis from patients suffering kidney failure. They did not vote to eliminate the AIDS Drug Assistance Program that as Senator Mark Leno states ‘literally keeps people alive.’

“Voters did not ask for the elimination of the Cal Grant Program which enables hard-working students to afford a college education, and they did not vote to lay off more teachers. And they did not vote to close 80% of our state parks.

“Nor did they vote to approve one of the largest corporate tax cuts in state history, allowing companies to essentially write their own tax rules. The $1.5 billion cost of that tax cut could help preserve programs that are facing destructive cuts.

“Instead, numerous polls have shown Californians embrace fair and responsible taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, including at minimum a restoration of the upper-income tax brackets that were implemented by Republican governors Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson. Right now, an individual making $900,000 pays the same tax rate as someone making $50,000. Oil companies pay the same property tax rate as an elderly homeowner — and unlike Alaska and Texas, oil companies pay no tax on the oil they extract in California.

“Instead of these irresponsible cuts, our legislators must offer responsible and fair solutions that will solve our crisis — and refuse to back down from this position.

“We understand that California’s system of government presents impediments to these progressive solutions, such as the 2/3rds rule. But we do not accept that those obstacles are immovable.

“As President Barack Obama showed us, a campaign that offers hopeful empowerment can produce dramatic political change. It is time for California’s legislators to offer that to the people of this state by taking a stand against firing teachers and denying children health benefits to support tax breaks for the rich. It’s time to offer voters what they really want and make spending accountable and taxation equitable.

“We offer our support to those legislators who refuse to embrace the destruction of progressive California and instead will fight to implement the kind of responsible revenue solutions that Californians want.”

From California Medical Association President Dr. Dev GnanaDev:

“California’s physicians respect the grave condition of the state’s finances and the difficult decisions faced by lawmakers on how to eliminate a $24 billion deficit. The final budget solution, however, cannot include slashing health care for children, the poor and the unemployed if California is serious about resuscitating its economy and getting the most out of its spending.

“The Governor has proposed eliminating the Healthy Families Program, which provides health care to 900,000 children from low-income families. By becoming the first state in the nation to end this highly successful program, California will miss out on $500 million in annual federal funding and jeopardize the growth and development of many kids who aspire to be tomorrow’s leaders.

“The Governor has also recommended cutting more than $1 billion from Medi-Cal, the government health care program for those living in poverty. Medi-Cal, which primarily serves children, pregnant women and senior citizens, is already dangerously underfunded, causing serious gaps in access to care for the 6 million Californians who depend on it. No one, especially children, should suffer from the want of health care.

“Without these vital services, as many as 2 million additional Californians will be forced to put off visits to a doctor at a risk to their own long-term health and a greater cost to taxpayers. Lack of standard health care translates into more visits to overcrowded and expensive emergency rooms. These cuts block many Californians from living healthy, happy and productive lives and undermine our state’s economic recovery.”

UPDATE @ 1:15 P.M.: From Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor clearly understands the seriousness of the situation and we appreciate his willingness to be a partner in finding serious solutions.

“Our open Conference Committee is continuing to review the Governor’s proposals in a very public, diligent way.

“Not all the Governor’s proposals make sense – should we be the only state without a safety net? Should we eliminate efficient programs that bring in federal money? There are tough decisions ahead but they have to be smart decisions as well.

“Everything has to be considered, but we have to be creative and we have to be courageous in taking the steps to solve this problem.

“In addition to closing the budget deficit we’re also getting a head start looking at important reforms so once the deficit is solved we can start looking at ways to keep California from getting in this situation again.”

UPDATE @ 1:56 P.M.: From California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring:

“Today Governor Schwarzenegger gave a tough, focused speech that will contribute to building the forward momentum needed to not only resolve the state’s current budget crisis, but to also lay the foundation for a stronger, more fiscally sound California for years to come.

“Governor Schwarzenegger is absolutely right when he says the state should reduce the mandates and restrictions on school districts and local government, especially when the state is no longer providing the funding to meet those mandates, if it ever did.

“As a school board member I saw first hand how state mandates are forcing school districts to waste money and pass up obvious opportunities for savings. These mandates serve no educational purpose: they were passed to protect certain interest groups without advancing the cause of educating kids. California can no longer afford such ‘conveniences.’ It’s time for everyone to step up, to set priorities, and to make it through this crisis without making life even harder for Californians by raising taxes.”

UPDATE @ 2:40 P.M.: From Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman:

“Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was right when he said California must live within its means and increase government efficiency without raising taxes. The State must seek innovative solutions to provide better public services at a lower cost. Californians should support the Governor’s call for the elimination of redundant state boards and commissions, and for the repeal of a state law that prohibits school districts from choosing to provide transportation, landscaping and maintenance services in the most efficient way.

“The Governor’s speech was a step in the right direction and I intend to continue advocating for many of these reforms. Creating a more efficient state government, promoting job creation, and improving public education is our best hope for a new, more prosperous California.”

From Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark:

“We need to examine the budget from top to bottom and become more efficient in delivering essential services to Californians. It can not be business as usual, the deficit is too large and our time is too short.

“The voters want us to reject budget gimmicks and tackle the deficit without delay. We should create a reform plan that cuts non-essential boards and commissions, consolidates agencies and departments, but invests in our shared priorities of health care, education and public safety. These are services Californians value.

“We cannot have a just society with the early release of 58,000 inmates, the elimination of Cal grants for students who are facing record-high college fees, and by throwing one million children off of health insurance.

“The Governor hit the mark on some points, but his approach is not broad enough to support the notion of shared sacrifice. Eliminating core services for vulnerable Californians when they most need them will result in more people out on the streets.”

From Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner:

“The time is long past due for Sacramento to make state government more efficient and more effective. Californians demand immediate action and real reform. We must create an environment in California that promotes job creation, economic growth, and removes barriers to investment.

“Eliminating the outrageous six-figure salaries for individuals who serve on some state boards and commissions is one long overdue step which the Legislature should immediately implement. Taxpayers demand a fundamental restructuring of state government and a strategic plan for restoring California as the great state it can, must, and will be. We expect government to manage our tax dollars effectively and eliminating programs that are not efficiently serving the public is a first step towards achieving that goal.”

UPDATE @ 5:04 P.M.: From Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“The Governor’s opening statement that the voters in rejecting the special election measures said, ‘don’t ask us to solve complex budget issues, that’s your job,’ is right.

“He was wrong however in his assertion that Californians want an all cuts solution.

“Two recent polls (Binder and the California Field Poll) reveal that Californians support some revenue increases and do not favor drastic cuts to education, health care and other essential services.

“We have choices. For instance, restoring the top income tax rate on high wealth incomes of $250,000 and above in place under Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Ronald Reagan would allow us to avoid $4 billion of these cuts. Enacting an oil severance fee on oil drilled in California, revenue collected by every state and country in the world that produces significant amounts of oil, could avoid another $1 billion in cuts.

“The Governor talked of us acting courageously. Acting courageously is looking at all alternatives and making smart, rational choices that lessen the cuts with some sensible new revenues.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR

    Assemblyman Swanson, as usual, is in denial along with the rest of the “What’s Left of the Left” crowd in his district. Let’s tax the well-off! Yeah, they’re still doing better than the rest of us, aren’t they! Even the ones with lousy investments! The Greedy Rich got us into this mess, it’s only fair they pay our way out of it.

  • John W

    Swanson — clueless!

  • Elwood

    Swanson and Skinner are from the same branch of the Democrat party which never met a tax increase it didn’t like.