Bay Area lawmakers react to Brown’s budget

The rhetoric is flying hot and heavy in the hours since Gov. Jerry Brown issued his May budget revision. We’ve got an overall look at the situation in our main story, but here’s what some of your Bay Area lawmakers are saying…

From Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“As we work through this shortfall, we should do all we can to protect education and access to our colleges and universities. I appreciate the Governor’s continuing commitment to demand more accountability from for-profit higher education institutions who are saddling our students with large amounts of loan debts. We can no longer accept such high levels of student loan defaults. By making more of these colleges ineligible for Cal grant funds, our students will be more likely to attend better institutions where their chances of success will be higher.”

From Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park:

“The Governor’s May Revise reveals the tough decisions that lie ahead. I agree with the Governor that it has taken years to create the fiscal calamity that we face, and it will take years to make the structural reforms to get out of it. However, with a now $16 billion budget deficit for this year, it is near impossible to balance the budget without cuts to services we value.

“This new budget prompts the question of how much government Californians’ truly want. We cannot provide services without adequate funding. At the moment, we are severely underfunded.

“As we continue to enter budget negotiations and talks, I hope the Governor and both parties will have honest conversations of how to balance the budget without compromising our safety net, public safety, or public education system.

“It is essential that we refrain from gimmicks and tactics of kicking the can down the road. This is a problem that we face now, and in turn, we must solve this immediate deficit now. As a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, I look forward to delving into the details of this revise in order to produce a balanced, on-time budget.”

From Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco:

“The challenging cuts that Governor Brown announced today in his revised budget proposal are temporary solutions until we are able to pass responsible tax measures this November. No one is happy about $8 billion in cuts but I applaud the Governor for understanding that cuts alone will not solve our budget crisis and that California will not be able to recover economically unless we have a balanced approach to the budget deficit.

“I strongly support the proposed November tax measures and I am committed to other common sense revenue ideas like closing the corporate loopholes in Proposition 13, taxing and legalizing marijuana and enacting an oil severance tax, all of which combined would bring in more than $2 billion in new revenue annually to the state. Only by creating new revenue will we restore California’s economic health and put people back to work.”

From Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda:

“Today’s May Revise makes it clear that it is more important than ever that we move forward with Governor Brown’s tax initiative proposal. California must honestly address our structural budget deficit and thoughtfully cultivate new revenue sources. We need more revenue to responsibly fund education and protect the safety net for our most vulnerable populations. The moral and social cost of more unproductive cuts and no new revenue will be felt well past the life of this budget.”

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, Senile Columnist

    Yeah, they will be practicing their punting skills in Sac. Get ready for another round of kicking that battered old can down the road.

  • Publius

    Typical Dem argument.

    If we don’t get more money then we can’t provide services that you paid for.

    With a 10.2% year over year rise in State revenue the government still cannot live within it’s means. This is an epic failure.

    Did some mention pension reform?

  • Grant Klokeid

    No mention of us having over 30% of those on welfare but only 12% of the population. Cut deeper before you expect us to pay more.

  • Rick K.

    There is still lots of waste in the state budget that ought to be cut before shaking down the people of California. If things were as bad as the Governor claims, the special interests would be turning on each other — the teachers’ unions would point to waste in the prison budget, the prison guards would point to waste in public schools, all performing valuable public service in the process. Instead the special interests are crying in unison like a bunch of pigs at the trough, “Feed us more tax money! Don’t ask questions!” No rational Californian should vote for the tax increases until meaningful pension reform is enacted. No rational Californian should support higher taxes until Gov. Gray Davis and his ilk are forced to admit publicly that their S.B. 400 in 1999, which enacted the overgenerous “3% at 50” pension scheme, was bad public policy that is literally bankrupting the state. Why should rank-and-file CHP officers and firefighters be allowed to retire at age 50 and receive $100,000+ per year for life? It doesn’t make sense that I should pay higher taxes so that government retirees can enjoy lives of luxury. The “3% at 50” pension scheme needs to be abolished immediately for all new government employees. But Gov. Brown never talks about these truths. Instead he holds the school children “hostage” to try to ram through the tax increases. School children are much more sympathetic and less potent politically in Sacramento than greedy, middle-aged, grossly overpaid pensioners who prioritize their beach homes and jet skis over the public interest. The school children are just a “front” for Jerry Brown’s tax increase scheme.

  • Josh Richman

    Re:#4 — Rick, while pension reform is badly needed, I think you’re setting up a false equivalency here. Unfunded pension liability faces us over the coming decades, while the general fund deficit – and the shortage of funding to meet our education obligations – is a problem right here and now. By the LAO’s figures (page 12), even if we eliminated every cent of general fund spending on CalSTRS, CalPERS and other state retirement costs from the budget (which I think everyone knows is impossible even with radical reform), we would still be about $10 billion in deficit.

    As for whether the governor is using kids as a front for the tax hikes, that’s a matter of perspective. From your perspective, it’s a craven political ploy. If one takes him at his word (which I know you don’t), he has protected education spending – which he believes is most Californians’ priority – from cuts at least until voters have a chance to choose whether to save it. K-12 education is 42.2 percent of the governor’s proposed budget and higher education is 10.4 percent of it; you can’t have a serious deficit discussion without talking about impact on education.

  • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette

    Rick K. is awake at 1:05 A.M. and thinking clearly. If I knew his full name, I would vote for him. Yesterday I watched taxpayer money used for tearing up good pavement & sidewalks to replace them for decorative purposes. This “beautification” has been going on for months. No election for this, or any other ridiculous waste of money. We get an annual survey asking what public services we like and that becomes the title of the tax.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Do any of the Democrats in the legislature support the Governor’s 12 point plan to reform the runaway costs in California’s public pension system?

  • Publius

    RE: #4

    I agree with Rick K. There is so much waste that needs to be addressed. The pensions may be a small peice of the debt, but the tax paying non-state worker perceives them as an injustice that must be dealt with before you boldly demand for more money.

    The people of this state should not have to choose to save education or the state parks, these are basic services. This is an obvious political ploy to scare everyone into approving the tax increase. Brown was right about one thing, this is our day of reckoning. This is the day that the Democrats will have to make tough choices and stop kicking the can down the road. They will have to stand up to their Big Labor masters and live within their means.

    I drove by 2 brand new schools being built today in Pittsburg. They were huge! Millions upon millions of dollars. The new High School in Pittsburg is also an impressive structure, another multi-million dollar project (all built under a PLA; AKA union only discrimination). In comparison I spend $5,000 per year to send each of my kids to a private school that is ran down and dilapidated. As a parent I am required to volunteer and we as parents are trying to raise money to expand the facilities. Our children attend class in out dated buildings with less than adequate space. Still on a shoestring budget this little school will out perform the public schools. Don’t ask me to pay more for your broken system Mr. Brown, there is a solution and it requires less government not more.

  • Jean Starr

    I just love bob Wykowski’s justification for more tax money for government schools, pitting them against private colleges by promoting taking away the latter’s ability to take school loans, and insisting that public schools are better than private schools. What a laugh!