What they’re saying about the budget deal

There are a lot of unhappy people out there this morning.

California Association of Counties Executive Director Paul McIntosh told me a few minutes ago that California counties are staring at “the three prongs of the devil’s pitchfork,” losing redevelopment money, gas tax revenue and property tax revenue.

McIntosh said redevelopment funds already seem tapped out. As for gas taxes, McIntosh noted CSAC had advocated for a temporary 5-cent increase in the state gas tax to cover the debt-service payments for which the state now intends to seize counties’ money – a move counties believe is unconstitutional. “They’ve actually got to adopt legislation and the governors got to sign a bill before we have a challengeable action, but rest assured that if they follow down that path, as soon as possible after that we would be filing litigation.”

The gas tax diversion, if consummated, would devastate county public works departments, leaving local roads in a sorry state uncontemplated by Californians in recent years.

“We don’t like to see the state borrowing our property taxes, we’re quite protective of our local revenues, but we recognize that the constitution does allow for that contingency,” he said, noting the constitution requires the state to repay counties this money within three years, and CSAC wants to ensure the legislation is written strong enough so that counties can go to Wall Street and borrow now against that promise.

And now… to the quotes!

California Welfare Directors Association Executive Director Frank Mecca:

“Serious damage has been done to the seniors, people with disabilities, and children of our State by our leaders’ misguided budget choices. The full magnitude of that damage to people is not yet completely clear, but one thing is certain: this is the biggest step back from protecting and investing in vulnerable Californians in a generation.”

Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta:

“We were able to resolve California’s 26.3 billion dollar budget deficit without raising taxes. It solves our cash flow issues and saves money by reforming key government programs so they operate more efficiently. By being accountable for every taxpayer dollar we can save billions in future years.”

Children’s Defense Fund California Policy Director Deena Lahn:

“The Governor and the Legislature are breaking promises to children. For the first time in a decade, instead of reducing the ranks of uninsured children, the situation for children in California will get much worse. How can our leaders not consider closing all tax loopholes before working parents are told that preventive care for children isn’t possible any longer. Even more outrageous, they are forcing a freeze in a program (Healthy Families) that is paid for mostly with federal dollars! California is being shamed in front of the nation, as other states manage to increase health care for working families, even in the midst of a recession.”

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer:

“Getting this budget agreement enacted will be a big step forward, but our state still has a lot of hard work and sacrifice ahead before we are out of the woods. At this point, it’s too early to assess the effect of the budget deal on our cash borrowing needs. Until enactment of the budget changes by the Legislature and the Governor later this week, it will not be possible for anyone to estimate or announce the size, sequence or scheduling of any short-term cash borrowing. That determination will be made in collaboration with the Controller’s Office and the Department of Finance after we study an analysis of new state cash flow reports.”

More, after the jump…

Democratic Congressional candidate Lt. Gov. John Garamendi:

“The Governor just put California’s coastline up for sale when he had other options that don’t put our natural resources at risk. He refused to approve a plan to tax oil companies that now extract oil in California to fund health care services, children’s programs and education. California is the only oil producing state without an oil severance tax, and it would generate $1.2 billion dollars annually for our state. Instead, we are taking dirty money. Big Oil has offered to California $100 million dollars to seduce the state into granting the first new oil drilling lease in California since the Santa Barbara oil spill 41 years ago. The loan must be repaid by forgiving future royalty payments to California. This is an incredibly reckless fiscal policy.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman:

“There is nothing commendable about this budget process. Year after year, Californians have been shortchanged by Sacramento politicians who have raised taxes and allowed spending to grow out-of-control while chasing jobs away. Today, we have unacceptably high unemployment rates.

“As painful flaws begin to appear in this agreement, Californians should demand strong leadership focused on job growth, fiscal restraint and the effective management of our state.”

Health Access California Executive Director Anthony Wright:

“California has better choices than to deny coverage to hundreds of thousands of children, or to make these devastating cuts to the health system on which we all rely. While there were no good choices in this budget crisis, these were the worst possible choices for our children, for our health system, and for our economy. These cuts are magnified because of the hundreds of millions in lost federal matching funds we need for an economic recovery. These cuts will not just directly impact hundreds of thousands of children and many of California’s most vulnerable, but they will ripple through the health care system and impact all Californians as a result. The agreement of a budget like this is not a cause of celebration, but of embarrassment and shame for California.”

Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs:

“When Democrats agree to a budget that is counter to why they are Democrats, it’s time to hit the reset button. While I respect the hard work done by President Pro Tem Steinberg and Speaker Bass, the fact is they are playing a bad hand dealt from a forced deck. This budget is the latest example of why we need a Constitutional Convention to solve the root cause of California’s budget woes.

“For thirty years, we have careened from budget crisis to budget crisis without real accountability from our elected officials. Under the current system, neither party is completely responsible. Republicans are in the minority in the state legislature, but use the 2/3rds budget passage requirement to block the policies of the Democratic majority. While voters have chosen Democrats to be in the majority, they can’t enact their own policies, and instead blame the Republicans for obstruction. Both parties escape blame by pointing fingers at each other.

“This merry-go-round of irresponsibility must end if we want California to be governable once again. It’s time for the people to use the power granted to them by the state’s constitution to reshape our state so that it works for all of us.”

SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker:

“Legislators’ and the governor’s refusal to close tax loopholes, eliminate waste in private state contracts, and make big tobacco and big oil pay their fair share, is another series of bad decisions.”

“We’re furious about the failed leadership in Sacramento.Their decision shows a lack of political courage to stand up to corporate giants and wealthy special interests.”

“We’ve done our share—we negotiated a contract with the governor that, if applied to all state employees, would save $1 billion. We cannot accept three furlough days … we’ll fight it in the courts, in the Legislature and in the workplace to have it cut back. (State workers must) step up and show your anger through unity in our worksites and our strike authorization ballots.”

UPDATE @ 12:42 P.M.: League of California Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie:

“This budget proposal is a reckless Ponzi scheme because it depends on unconstitutional seizure of billions in local revenues that the voters dedicated to specific purposes and questionable borrowing provisions. It also puts government’s most important responsibility — protecting public safety — at risk because it takes local property tax revenues that should be used to patrol the neighborhoods of the cities of California and to respond to the many fire, police and emergency medical calls that cities in California receive. We have assured state officials we will see them in court the day after a budget is signed if it contains illegal provisions.”

California Federation of Teachers President Marty Hittelman:

“The priorities are wrong. Massive cuts to all levels of education while, at the same time, preserving unproductive corporate tax breaks, is a blueprint for further California decline. Legislators should do the right thing and reject this budget.”

“The governor and Republicans refuse to provide more state revenues to cover necessary education programs. Meanwhile, they’ve been busy handing out huge tax breaks to corporations. That is exactly contrary to the people’s view that education spending should be increased. We look forward to giving the people a chance to vote against the tax loopholes punched in the budget for corporations with a ballot measure to repeal them.”

“It will be another great raiding party for other states to recruit our laid-off teachers. Once again, the governor and his Republican colleagues are being penny-wise and dollar-foolish. California invested in preparing most of these teachers, and added a year or more of on-the-job professional development, only to throw these teachers and that investment out the window. These cuts will depress student performance, which has been improving over the past decade. When students lose their teacher, nurse, librarian, bus driver, bilingual classroom aides, or other important parts of the education delivery system, look no further than blind devotion to the Republican ‘no new taxes’ dogma for the reason why.”

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman:

“The Bay Area Council is pleased to see that the ‘Big 5’ were able to negotiate a budget compromise for consideration by the Legislature. We hope a new budget can end the shameful practice of issuing IOUs, which has made California a national laughingstock. We also hope that this budget will hold up longer than the past three this year, but remain skeptical.

“This budget process dramatically demonstrates the dysfunction of our system of governance. Were it only the budget process that needed reform, we could count ourselves lucky. Unfortunately, the situation screams for reform to our election process, our initiative process, the relationship between state and local governments, and a new state government oversight mechanism. The time of tinkering at the edges has passed, so has the time of one-reform silver bullets.

“California needs systemic change and a Constitutional Convention is the only realistic way to get that change. We therefore will continue the hard push to hold a voter-authorized, limited Constitutional Convention.”

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.

  • DanvilleDemocrat

    Garamendi is no longer a candidate for governor … inanely, he’s trying to nab Ellen Tauscher’s congressional seat. That said, his early statement on this makes me wonder where the other Democrats vying for the top job in Sacramento are on this terrible budget. Gav? Jer?

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Golly folks, gee whiz! A budget in the midst of the worst slump in more than a generation and it’s unfair to many segments of our population! How could this happen? Sacramento’s solons lack the “courage” to confiscate what’s left of private wealth so disadvantaged groups such as state employees can still get the paychecks to which they are accustomed.

  • allen payton

    The budget deal is made up of accounting gimmicks.
    “All told, the deal contains $15.6 billion in cuts, about $2.1 billion in borrowing, $3.9 billion in new revenues and about $2.7 billion in accounting maneuvers like shifting a payday into the next fiscal year,” according to today’s New York Times article. “Under the new budget, which runs through the 2010 fiscal year, localities will basically serve as unwilling lending agents to the state. It will raid their coffers and repay them over time as the state’s fiscal situation improves.”
    The only real things are the budget cuts. But it’s our school aged children who will suffer the most. So the state is really still running an $11 billion deficit.
    More of the same games instead of providing leadership.

  • Brian Dawson, Guest Pirate


    All you will get is talking points.

    The only candidate to actually talk about this problem is Tom Campbell.

  • Elwood

    Congratulations to our brave legislators!

    They balanced the budget with accounting tricks and thievery. Again!

    I cannot believe that anyone would freely admit that he/she is a member of the CA leg.

    But Ms. Buchanan and Marky Mark are so proud of their service that they’re running for Congress! What a wonderful opportunity to screw things up on a bigger stage!

  • John W

    Hollingsworth: “It solves our cash flow issues…” Yeah, by creating bigger ones for next year.

    What will they do in a few weeks, when they find out the hole has become $3 billion deeper? Might be able to get some help from the magician who entertained at my niece’s birthday party.

    I’m still a California newbie. Never heard of state government “borrowing” from county and city before. What is it in state law that even allows them to do that?

  • Brian Dawson, Guest Pirate

    The best part John is the towns and counties the State barrowed money from last time STILL hasn’t been paid back.

    This is stealing money from towns and counties.

  • Doug

    I’m sending a note to Dennis Hollingsworth that I hope will help him to understand that taking $4B from local government IS A TAX INCREASE. The thin hair he’s splitting that the STATE did not raise taxes is just such BS – and so consistent with this Legislature’s lack of brains, much less ability.