Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'state budget' Category

Longtime legislative aide goes to bat for courts

A longtime Bay Area legislative staffer has been hired to head the state court system’s governmental affairs office – and lead the courts’ fight against draconian budget cuts by the Legislature and governor.

Cory Jasperson was hired by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the recommendation of a Judicial Council search committee led by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvin Baxter. Jasperson, 42, will start Dec. 3 as a replacement for Curt Child, who was promoted last month to become the Administrative Office of the Courts’ chief operating officer.

“The search committee was very impressed with Cory Jasperson’s personal attributes, professional experience, and outstanding reputation he has earned in the Capitol,” Baxter said in a news release. “We are confident that he will lead the Office of Governmental Affairs with great distinction.”

Jasperson currently is chief of staff to state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is term-limited out at the end of this year and is about to start a term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Earlier, Jasperson served as a top aide to other lawmakers including Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, and Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View.

Jasperson, in the courts’ news release, said he’s eager to get to work. “I strongly believe that our democracy requires a vibrant and independent judiciary to provide access to justice for all Californians. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by all three branches because of the state’s fiscal crisis.”

Indeed, Jasperson is in for quite a ride: The California judicial system’s budget has been cut by 30 percent since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, leading to layoffs, reduced hours and services, and delayed or cancelled construction projects.

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
Under: state budget | No Comments »

Poll: Support slipping for Brown’s tax measure

Grim news for Gov. Jerry Brown: Support for his proposed November ballot measure to hike California’s sales tax and income taxes on the wealthiest residents is slipping, even after news of a larger-than-expected budget deficit.

The latest University of Southern California Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, conducted May 17 through 21, shows 59 percent of voters support his ballot measure while 36 percent oppose it. That’s a five-point drop in support from March, when 64 percent supported it and 33 percent opposed it.

The margin narrows further when voters are given arguments for and against Brown’s proposal, along with information – first announced by Brown on May 14 – that California faces a budget deficit of $16 billion, much higher than the initial projection of $9 billion.

In the face of these new numbers, 51 percent of likely voters agreed it’s “more important than ever to support Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the income tax on high earners. No one wants higher taxes, but we need to make these tough choices to protect public schools, higher education and public safety.”

But in contrast, 41 percent of likely voters agreed “the increased budget deficit shows clearly that state government does not know how to balance a budget or spend taxpayer dollars. It’s more important than ever to oppose Governor Brown’s proposal to temporarily increase the state sales tax because the money will just be wasted again.”

“Governor Brown and his advisors have argued that the prospect of difficult spending cuts would lead to increased support for additional revenues, but the ongoing news coverage of the state’s budget problems may be creating an obstacle for his ballot initiative as well,” said Dan Schnur, who directs the poll as well as USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics. “Voters have indicated a willingness to pay more for public schools and public safety. But they are also getting skeptical about whether their elected representatives can be trusted to spend their money wisely.”

Here’s a video of Schnur and Times reporter Anthony York discussing the poll results:

Brown’s proposed measure for November’s ballot would raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter cent – from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent – for the next four years. It also would, for the next seven years, create three new high-income tax brackets for those making more than $250,000 per year, the top 3 percent of California taxpayers. Of these new revenues, which Brown estimates at $9 billion but the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office pegs at $6.8 million, 89 percent would go to K-12 education and the rest to community colleges.

Brown’s job approval rating stands at 49 percent, virtually unchanged from the March poll, but his disapproval rating rose from 35 percent to 39 percent.

Brown’s May budget revision includes spending cuts such as reducing state employees’ workweek by 5 percent, from 40 hours a week to 38. The new poll shows voters support this by a two-to-one margin – 60 percent to 30 percent – so long as public safety workers aren’t affected, in order to save an estimated $400 million. Latino voters were much less likely than voters overall to support the state workweek cut: Only 44 percent favored this, with 45 percent opposed.

But when told this cut would mean state offices are open four days a week, overall support for reduced work hours for public employees declined to only 54 percent, with 39 percent opposed.

The poll’s full sample of 1,002 registered voters had a 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Under: ballot measures, Jerry Brown, state budget, taxes | 9 Comments »

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.”

Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2012
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, Jerry Brown, Rich Gordon, Sandre Swanson, state budget, taxes, Tom Ammiano | 9 Comments »

Jean Ross is leaving the California Budget Project

A leading advocate for state fiscal policy that protects low- and middle-income Californians is moving on to a new post.

Jean Ross is leaving her position as executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of low- and middle-income Californians. She has held this post since the CBP was founded in 1995. She’ll be taking a position next month at the Ford Foundation as the U.S. Program Officer for Transparent, Effective, and Accountable Government.

“My 17 years with the CBP have been incredibly rewarding. From day one, my goal has been to build a lasting organizational capacity to engage in timely, credible, and accessible analysis of fiscal and economic policies and their impact on California that is much greater than any one individual,” she wrote today. “I leave my position confident in the ability of the CBP’s staff, with the strong support of the organization’s board, to continue to produce the insightful analyses that policymakers, advocates, members of the media, and thousands of other Californians have come to depend on.”

She said she hopes to apply her CBP experience in her new Ford Foundation job, at which she is supposed to “ensure that federal and state governments effectively address the needs of the American people, especially the most vulnerable; that the public sector has adequate resources and revenue to accomplish this; and that government decision-making is open and accessible and encourages broad participation by the general public.”

I’ve always been deeply impressed by Ross’s encyclopedic knowledge of California’s budgets; her ability to convey that often-esoteric knowledge in terms anyone can understand; and by the passion with which she advocated for those that the CBP exists to serve.

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012
Under: state budget | 1 Comment »

Tax touters seek Kim Kardashian’s support (?)

How better to build support for a millionaires’ tax than to pick on one of California’s most annoying millionaires?

So they must’ve thought over at the Courage Campaign, which launched this video this afternoon:

“We love Ms. Kardashian’s sense of style and we know she gets lots of attention,” Courage Campaign founder and chairman Rick Jacobs said in a news release. “Now we want to catch her eye and ask her if she’ll support our tax proposal which asks the rich to pay their fair share in our state. Why not? After all, California’s middle class continues to suffer from endless budget cuts, and we hope to catch Ms. Kardashian in the holiday spirit.”

Seems like a win-win for the would-be taxers. If she agrees with them, it’s a high-profile celebrity endorsement. If she doesn’t, it gins up some blue-collar outrage.

For what it’s worth, I do see that Kim Kardashian is registered as a decline-to-state voter.

The Courage Campaign is a member of the Restoring California Coalition, which is pushing one of the many tax-hike proposals seeking a place on next November’s ballot. The coalition last week touted poll numbers it claims show is most popular among voters and so has the best chance of passing.

Posted on Monday, December 19th, 2011
Under: ballot measures, state budget, taxes | 5 Comments »

Progressives say polls back millionaires tax

With a blizzard of tax-hike measures vying for slots on next November’s ballot, a coalition of labor and progressive groups said today that polling shows their “millionaire’s tax” is the most popular.

So popular, in fact, that proponents say everyone – including Gov. Jerry Brown, who has a different plan of his own – should support it as the only one that has a chance of passing.

The Restoring California Coalition – comprised of more than two dozen groups including unions such as the California Federation of Teachers and progressive groups such as the Courage Campaign – last week submitted to the Attorney General’s office a proposed measure that would hike taxes on income over $1 million by 3 percent and over $2 million by 5 percent. The coalition says this would raise about $6 billion per year, to be spent on K-12 and higher education; services for seniors and the disabled; child care; police and fire services; and roads and bridges.

California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt told reporters on a conference call today that the plan “does not put it on the backs of working families and middle class families who have been suffering, particularly during this economic downturn,” and “resonates with the growing awareness of economic and tax inequity that we’ve seen in recent months.”

Pollster Ben Tulchin said he has interviewed nearly 5,000 likely November 2012 voters in several surveys this year and conducted 16 focus groups around the state, finding strong support for such a measure.

Voters’ perceptions that the rich have gotten richer while the middle class has struggled in recent years, and that the rich don’t pay their fair share in taxes, surged from May to October, perhaps due to rhetoric coming from the Occupy movement, the White House and other quarters, Tulchin said.

He said his October survey found 73 percent of voters are open to raising taxes on the wealthy in order to restore funding to essential services that have been cut, such as education, health care and public safety, while 24 percent said they’re not and 3 percent said they don’t know.

When read a title and summary for their proposal that the proponents believe is similar to what the Attorney General’s office will prepare, 67 percent said they would tend to vote yes – including 37 percent who gave a definite yes – while 24 percent said they would tend to vote no, with 15 percent a definite no. “I have never in my career seen such strong numbers for a title and summary poll for a proposed ballot measure,” Tulchin said.

Support for the plan is at 84 percent among Democrats, 68 percent among decline-to-state or third-party voters, and 45 percent among Republicans, he said. “The fact that it can draw bipartisan support puts it with the best chance of winning.”

In contrast, only 36 percent (14 percent definite) said they would vote for a plan including a 1 percent sales-tax hike and a 0.25 percent income tax hike, while 62 percent are opposed (with 45 percent a definite “no”). “That dog won’t hunt,” Tulchin said.

And the idea – advanced last month by the Think Long Committee – of lowering the state’s sales tax rate for goods but extending the tax to services such as dry cleaning, auto repair, accounting and law say 40 percent support (16 percent definite) and 45 percent opposition (26 percent definite). Tulchin called that “another dead end.”

Lots more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Under: ballot measures, polls, state budget, taxes | 3 Comments »

What they’re saying about Jerry Brown’s tax plan

Gov. Jerry Brown today issued an open letter to Californians announcing, as expected, that he’s filing a proposed ballot measure to hike income taxes on those making more than $500,000 a year and temporarily boost the state sales tax by half a cent to prevent devastating budget cuts in education and public safety.

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Californians realize that four years of draconian cuts have swung the pendulum too far. We’ve done enough damage, and enough is enough. It’s time to stop the bleeding and begin reinvesting in public education and local public safety. The Governor’s plan dedicates new revenue where it’s most needed – guaranteed to go directly into our public school and community college classrooms. At the same time, it protects ongoing funding for local public safety programs. The temporary taxes also create a more equitable system, with everyone paying a little more in sales tax while the wealthiest among us pay their fair share at a time when they enjoy record income growth. Bringing more balance to the support of essential services will begin to restore the greatness of our state.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga:

“Clearly the governor has put tax hikes ahead of job creation. Californians have consistently voted down tax-only proposals. Senate Republicans continue a call to action on reforms first. Only with reforms can we put Californians back to work and restore the people’s confidence in state government.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor’s revenue plan is fair, focused and forward-thinking. The plan asks the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share and takes us another major step forward on getting control of our long-term finances. More importantly, this plan helps minimize the need for cuts to higher education and other critical services and ensures that California is making the kinds of investments in education and public safety that will keep our communities safe and help our economic prosperity in the long term. I believe this is a plan that every Californian can and will support, and I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to win approval from the voters.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

“Governor Brown is once again relying on his failed budget playbook in proposing a massive $35 billion tax increase on hard-working Californians and job creators. Voters rejected similar tax increases in the past and have shown a strong reluctance in polls to accepting higher taxes to bailout Sacramento. Ironically, Sacramento Democrats are again proposing higher taxes at a time when Washington Democrats are suggesting a tax increase on families could plunge the country back into recession.

“Despite their rhetoric, it is clear that our state’s projected $13 billion budget shortfall is not the result of a lack of revenue, but rather that Democrats want to grow government spending by $10 billion next year. The majority party’s budget priorities are clear – sock working families with a painful tax increase to pay for more health and welfare spending and unsustainable public employee pensions, while education continues to take a massive hit. Assembly Republicans will again stand united as the last line of defense for taxpayers and will fight these reckless taxes every step of the way.”

Read more after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2011
Under: Assembly, ballot measures, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Connie Conway, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget, taxes | 8 Comments »

Judge issues temporary order to halt IHSS cuts

A federal judge in Oakland has issued a temporary restraining order to keep California from implementing a 20 percent across-the-board cut in the In-Home Supportive Services program on Jan. 1.

IHSS is meant as an alternative to nursing homes or other out-of-home institutionalization for the elderly, disabled and blind. The deep cut was part of the state budget deal passed earlier this year.

But U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken found that the planned cut “will cause immediate and irreparable harm by placing members of the plaintiff class at imminent and serious risk of harm to their health and safety, as well as unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement including institutionalization.”

The order gives a coalition of disability rights and senior-citizen advocacy groups, plus labor unions representing IHSS workers, more time to make a case to overturn the cut completely. A hearing on a preliminary injunction in the case is scheduled for Dec. 15.

The TRO will remain in effect until there is a hearing in which the Court will decide whether to grant a preliminary injunction. This hearing is tentatively scheduled for December 15th.

“We are pleased that Judge Wilken recognized the urgency of preventing the state from moving ahead with this devastating cut that would affect nearly 400,000 elderly and disabled Californians,” Doug Moore, executive director of the 65,000-member UDW Homecare Providers Union and an international vice president of AFSCME, said in a news release. “We believe these cuts to IHSS would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws and need to be stopped immediately.”

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Under: state budget | 5 Comments »

Loni Hancock speaks in support of faculty strike

State Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, joined striking faculty members, staff, students and California Faculty Association supporters at a rally this afternoon at California State University, East Bay in Hayward.

From her prepared remarks:

“This is a pivotal moment for California’s educational system. In times of economic fragility such as we are in now, we are faced with gut-wrenching choices. It is all too easy for high-level managers to shift a disproportionate burden of cutbacks and suffering to those who are the real heart of the university system – the faculty, staff and students.

“I am here to congratulate and support the faculty of this great university for having the courage to stand up for fairness and for making a stand against the destruction of our education system.

“You have been more than patient as you have watched the California university system diminished by drastic budget cuts, skyrocketing tuition and fee increases, reduced resources for faculty and staff and an intransigent administration refusing to compromise on contracts.

“You have been more than patient as you have watched students suffer the consequences. Every day, I hear from frustrated and angry Americans worried about being able to send their kids to college because their savings have been depleted thanks to Wall Street greed and mismanagement.

“I urge the university’s administration to listen to you – to heed the voices of the faculty, staff and students who are the heart and soul of this great university. You are the 99 percent, and your voice will be heard.”

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, education, Loni Hancock, state budget | 6 Comments »

What they’re saying about the budget forecast

The Legislative Analyst’s Office today issued a fiscal forecast showing California’s state budget deficit for the fiscal year starting next July 1 will be almost $13 billion.

If the state Finance Department concurs next month, this could mean $2 billion in mid-year “trigger cuts” this year, mostly in the K-12 and higher education budgets.

From Gil Duran, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown:

“California’s budget gap is the result of a decade of poor fiscal choices and a global recession. This year, we cut the problem in half. Next year, we’ll continue to make the tough choices necessary until the problem is solved.”

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Today’s announcement by the LAO is indicative, but not determinative of the final decision on whether the budget triggers will be pulled next month and we must wait until the Department of Finance December forecast, which will have up to date information and certainly may alter the trigger calculation to lessen the level of trigger cuts.

“Given the uncertainty in the global economy, we included these triggers as a mechanism to ensure California’s fiscal solvency through this budget year. We approved budget solutions that eliminated seventy five percent of the ongoing structural deficit over time, and we have more work to do to accelerate the elimination of the remainder of that deficit.

“Ultimately, we all know that the best long-term solutions to our budget challenges are rebuilding our economy and putting Californians back to work, and we will continue working to build on the progress we’ve made with respect to job creation in the coming year.”

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“I am deeply troubled by this forecast and the prospect of making another round of deep cuts to public schools and higher education. The Legislature and governor should explore all of our available options, and do everything we can, to prevent mid-year cuts.

“The bottom line is our public schools and institutions of higher education are woefully underfunded, and we must find a way to reverse this trend of cutting their support if we are serious about providing Californians and their children with a bright future.”

From Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chairman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber:

“The Legislative Analyst’s Office report indicates, as predicted, that the budget passed by Democrats with only a majority vote was overly optimistic and based on shaky assumptions. In this budget, state spending is predicted to increase by 12 percent by 2012-2013. It is clear that state spending has not been brought under control, and that’s not even factoring in the enormous cost of the federal healthcare mandates.

“It indicates that a lot more needs to be done to get California’s budget under control, and that does not happen through tax increases. Government has changed very little in how it conducts its business in the last three years.”

From state Controller John Chiang:

“Today’s news is no surprise. Our economy’s sluggish growth means a tax windfall is unlikely, and not a penny of the estimated $4 billion has been collected to date. The Governor and lawmakers were smart to backstop their hopeful budget projections with mid-year cuts, but they may not have gone far enough. Today’s report tracks with the troublesome pattern we have seen in the State’s receipts and spending, which could mean a cash-flow problem in California’s near future.”

From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“Today’s numbers make it clear that the state’s first priority must be to get to the ballot in November and raise needed revenues to avoid any more damage to Californians. The notion of cutting deeper into education, public safety and services for those in need is unthinkable. I imagine an overwhelming majority of Californians agree.

“We’ve cut to the point that the results are being felt like never before. The cupboard of easy solutions is bare. Just ask the students in our higher education systems; the more than one million elderly, blind, or disabled living in poverty; the families who see their kids go to school where the classrooms are more crowded and the resources are dwindling. We’ve hit a crossroads where the time has come to turn things around.

“Democrats have tackled more than half of the reoccurring deficit problem we’ve been plagued with ever since Governor Schwarzenegger cut the Vehicle Licensing Fee. As the LAO points out, last year’s budget actions have put our ongoing deficits at the lowest we’ve seen since the recession began. By building on that foundation, new revenue will finally allow the state to recover and reinvest.”

Read more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Ellen Corbett, Jerry Brown, John Chiang, John Perez, Mark Leno, state budget | 2 Comments »