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Reactions to Jerry Brown’s May budget revision

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“The Governor’s May Budget Revision is another key milestone in our effort to pass a balanced on-time budget by June 15th. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to maintaining the fiscal stability that has come from an improving economy, legislative Democrats making tough but necessary budget cuts, voters approving the majority-vote budget and voters standing with Democrats in supporting temporary tax revenues. We will review the Governor’s proposals and revenue projections, along with the LAO’s revenue projections, in depth, and his revised budget will be thoroughly discussed throughout the Budget committee and subcommittee process. Assemblymembers will review the Governor’s proposal through the prism of principles outlined in our Blueprint for a Responsible Budget: continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, and delivering effective, efficient services for Californians. On the whole, the Governor’s framework and the Assembly’s Blueprint seem to track well, and we’ll spend the next month reconciling our priorities.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia:

“Governor Brown today put forward a revised state spending plan that I believe charts a realistic path forward in meeting the budget priorities of hard-working taxpayers. Republicans share the Governor’s commitment to paying down state debt and holding the line on new spending. It is our hope that Legislative Democrats will follow the Governor’s lead in making fiscal discipline a core budget principle. We must resist the temptation to blow through the surplus using one-time money for ongoing programs and reverse the progress we’ve made in closing the deficit.”

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

“Overall, this May Revision is a refreshing change. For the first time in four years, we no longer have to stare at enormous deficits and make agonizing decisions on which cuts will do the least harm to our children, to the poor, and to middle class families.

“That’s the politically correct thing to say, and it happens to be true.

“I agree we must aggressively pay down our state’s debt and set aside money for a reserve, but there’s a disappointing aspect to this proposal. It’s important that we also begin making up for some of the damage done to tens of thousands of Californians. Unless the Legislative Analyst has a different conclusion, the Governor proposes few if any resources to restore cuts made over the past few years to the courts, and to health and human services.

“The Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula is the right policy direction, but our serious concern about how it’s accomplished remains. The concentration grants treat thousands of disadvantaged students unequally. It also fails to expand the proven success of career pathway programs which can reduce dropout rates and improve our kids’ readiness for the workforce by combining rigorous curriculum that’s also relevant to students’ career goals.

“The budget debate begins in earnest. I look forward to a deeper analysis of revenue projections in the coming weeks while we continue to work with the Governor on the best budget for California’s economic recovery and its people.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea:

“The Governor has revenue estimates that are lower than anyone expected, largely due to the increased payroll tax suppressing the economy. Higher tax rates and continuing high unemployment mean less money in people’s pockets and less money to propel the economy.

“We have common ground with the Governor in a belief that we cannot return to a culture of overspending that drives new budget crises. Governor Brown referred to this as a ‘Call for Prudence,’ we would call it ‘Common Sense.’ It seems that the Governor’s biggest budget challenge will be in restraining legislative Democrats and their growing wish list of new spending.

“Senate Republicans continue to believe that the State must meet the promises of the voter approved Proposition 30 tax increase measure by increasing funding for K-14 and higher education. We also believe that the Governor should support our efforts to allow Californians to vote on the bi-partisan rainy day reserve fund that had been previously scheduled for the 2012 ballot. Implementing a voter approved rainy day reserve requirement is the best way to protect against future budget crises and ensure stability.

“The Legislature should spend less time on a growing list of additional tax proposals such as soda taxes, oil severance taxes, tobacco taxes and several property tax measures that undermine historic Proposition 13 protections and instead focus on the growing public safety crises caused by the passage of AB 109, the Governor’s Public Safety Realignment scheme that has shifted 65,000 criminals from state prison to our local communities and neighborhoods.”

From California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye:

“I’m disappointed that the Governor’s revised budget proposals provide no more fiscal relief to the courts. Given the state’s current fiscal condition, I had hoped for more effort to help stop the downward spiral of the judicial branch budget. Courts across the state are already closing courthouses, courtrooms, and reducing the hours they serve the public. Without reinvestment in the courts, these terrible impacts will only expand, and the poor and middle class residents who rely on the courts to resolve issues that affect their lives and livelihoods will be adversely affected, as well those businesses still digging out from the effects of the great recession. We need adequate, ongoing funding for the courts that will permit us to reverse the damage caused by five years of budget cuts. The reforms I’ve put in place have helped save money and created more efficiencies. We needed critical support a year ago from the other two branches and now the need for justice is urgent. I am heartened by Speaker Perez’s comments last week about the need to begin reinvesting in the courts. I am optimistic that the Legislature and the Governor can work toward reversing some of the adverse impacts on access to justice before a budget bill is passed and signed.”

There’s a whole lot more, after the jump…
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What they’re saying about the governor’s budget

From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“This is a proposal that clearly shows California has turned the corner. The Governor’s budget is sober, restrained and forward thinking, and I believe it’s a solid foundation for the budget process. I am looking forward to thorough and insightful public hearings as we work with the Governor to adopt the final budget by our Constitutional deadline.”

From California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro:

“It’s easy for Gov. Brown to tout austerity and fiscal restraint when he has more of the taxpayers’ money in his pocket. His challenge will be to follow through on those promises when the economy continues to stagnate and the Democrats’ pie-in-the-sky projections don’t come to pass. That’s why Republican legislative leadership correctly proposed this week for the Governor to mandate that his new Prop 30 taxes fund our classrooms and protect our communities.

“What’s disappointing about Gov. Brown’s announcement is that job creation was never mentioned. Cutting the regulatory burden was ignored. Working with Republicans to unify the state is sadly not part of his agenda. In order for California to finally emerge from its economic doldrums and enter a new Golden Age, the answer lies with policies that encourage job growth and unleash the innovation of small business owners, not with budget wrangling and deferred payments that mask billions in debt to the federal government for unemployment insurance and more.

“We need bold reforms to go hand in hand with accountability and responsible fiscal governance if we want to return California and its citizens to prosperity. If Jerry Brown thinks we’re out of the woods just because, on paper, we’ll finally be ‘living within our means,’ he’s sadly mistaken.”

From state Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

“The budget proposal released today by Governor Brown is the most positive one we have seen in half a decade. The budget is narrowly balanced and contains elements that ensure a modest reserve. However, it reflects the difficult cuts and decisions the Legislature and Governor have made in the past few years to address the state’s structural budget deficit. It also demonstrates the confidence entrusted in us by voters in November who recognized that our fiscal situation was untenable without new temporary revenues. Although we are still under fiscal constraints, I am hopeful we are now past the period of devastating cuts we saw in previous years to education and programs that provide critical aid to elderly Californians, disabled people and working families.

“With the improvement of our fiscal outlook comes the opportunity to continue our work to restore California. While our recent efforts have focused largely on making cuts in the least harmful manner possible, we will now have more capacity to refine our work to improve essential programs and analyze the role of government and its effectiveness. I look forward to working with Governor Brown and my colleagues in the Legislature to evaluate this year’s budget to help ensure it is the best possible plan for a state on the mend.”

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

“New funding for our classrooms is a positive step forward for California. However, the Governor’s budget only seems to include $2.7 billion in new funding for K-12 schools and community colleges even though Proposition 30 taxes will generate $6 billion this year alone – Californians should be disappointed.

“I remain concerned that while state spending is being increased by $5 billion over last year, much of this money is used to expand state programs and provides major pay and benefit increases for state employees.

“Basically, this budget is balanced by a $50 billion tax increase, and Californians have yet to see any real, long-term plan to bring back jobs and help our struggling families.”

More, after the jump…
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Lawmakers: Cancel your Amazon.com account

A pair of East Bay lawmakers will join with a group of nonprofits and concerned citizens Monday to launch a campaign urging Californians to cancel their Amazon.com accounts until the retail giant backs off its ballot-measure effort to repeal an online sales tax.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who were instrumental in the tax legislation’s passage, will hold a news conference on the State Capitol’s north steps Monday morning with Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans; Jessica Lehman, lead organizer with Community Resources for Independent Living; and a few dozen California seniors, families, people with disabilities and health and human services advocates.

They’ll be making a case that making Amazon collect sales tax from Californians’ online purchases would level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar businesses, bringing the state $200 million per year in revenue that’s desperately needed to maintain vital public services.

After the news conference, participants will testify to the state Senate Appropriations Committee in support of additional measures needed to raise revenues.

Monday’s event, one of several planned statewide, is sponsored by the Health and Human Services Network of California, California Partnership, Health Access, California Immigrant Policy Center, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Parent Voices, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Community Resources for Independent Living and other groups.

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What they’re saying about Brown’s budget plan

I’ll be adding to this as the day goes on.

From Service Employees International Union California Executive Director David Kieffer:

“It’s time to stop playing games in California and get serious about a balanced approach to solving our budget crisis.

“Our state will not survive and recover if we do not come together to solve our problems. We cannot afford another year of gridlock and partisanship like we’ve seen in recent years. Instead, we need a cooperative effort on both sides of the aisle to restore the greatness of our state.

“Our top priority should be to restart job growth, but that will require that we get our state budget mess fixed. Doing so will be painful, and the sacrifices should be shared by all.

“Governor Brown’s budget proposal is a good start. It is balanced, and he even proposes to cut his own office. Every branch of government should follow his example.

“While we support the Governor’s balanced approach, it’s far from perfect. We will advocate for improvements to this budget so that it better reflects California’s values. We must pass a budget that ensures that frail seniors and people with disabilities aren’t put in harm’s way; that struggling families get the help they need to eat and pay the rent; and that our schools, colleges and universities stay strong.

“Moving control of services from Sacramento to the communities where they are used makes tremendous sense, but only if the services are funded and maintained. Realigning services will also give us the opportunity to find ways to improve public services to deliver more value to California.

“We look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to move California forward through this difficult time, help position California for recovery and job creation, and rebuild the things that have made California’s economy and communities thrive: our schools, colleges, healthcare, and infrastructure.”

From Republican activist Stephen Frank, publisher of California Political News & Views:

“His ‘budget’ is $84 billion–that is ONLY if we agree to keep high taxes. In an Arnold special election the people said NO to higher taxes. In November, 2010 the voters said NO to higher taxes. Now he is trying to use blackmail to get us to keep high taxes. When that fails, he creates a $10 billion addition to the deficit. Also, note his budget does not include money to pay for the approximate $10 billion in lawsuits the State has lost and the lawsuits it will lose this year, in this budget. In fact, he has built in at least $20 billion in ADDITIONAL deficits.

“Maybe the most immoral part of his ‘budget’ is his desire to cut employees pay by up to 10%; but, only those who do not pay bribes to unions to work. Non union people get cut; workers who pay bribes are allowed to keep their pay in tact. Punishing people for being honest and rewarding those forced to pay bribes. Then, again, we all knew he is owned by the unions.

“Jerry Brown can not be seen today due to all the smoke and mirrors around him. Dishonest budgeting is the proper term for his effort to punish Californians for the out of control government left behind by Arnold and the Sacramento Democrats. As Nancy Reagan would say, this time about the taxes, ‘Just Say NO.’”

From California Partnership Executive Director Nancy Berlin:

“These are indeed tough times, but if we’re going to get serious about California’s recovery, then we need to get serious about raising revenues, and that means putting all revenue options on the table.”

“We applaud Governor Brown’s first step to propose extending last year’s temporary revenue sources – including the Vehicle License Fee, income tax and sales tax increases, as well as the proposed elimination of the highly discredited and ineffective ‘enterprise zone tax credit. But now we need the Legislature to push harder, and bring in the revenues California so desperately needs.”

From Californians Against Higher Taxes:

“Californians Against Higher Taxes will analyze all proposals for revenue enhancements to determine if they have an adverse impact on California’s economic recovery and the creation of jobs. The Coalition looks forward to working with the legislature and the administration to ensure that any budget solutions that increase state revenues are not detrimental to private sector job creation.

“Additionally, we appreciate the Administration’s proposals to seek either a two-thirds vote of the legislature–in keeping with the language of prop 25–or a vote of the people to increase revenue.”

Read more, after the jump…
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Budget impasse spills onto Oakland streets

Californians’ tempers are flaring as the budget deadlock threatens their livelihoods.

About 40 working parents, child-care providers and kids rallied this morning outside the Elihu Harris State Office Building on Oakland’s Clay Street, demanding that the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger get a budget in place immediately. Starting Aug. 1, they noted, thousands of child-care providers won’t receive state payments for child-care services provided to working poor families, leaving these providers and families struggling to stay afloat.

The protest was organized by Parent Voices, LIFETIME, the California Partnership, and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, joined the protest, hoisting a picket sign that said, “Child Care Keeps California Working!”

“Our children deserve our best efforts,” he told the crowd, noting that if we’re to remain one of only three states requiring a two-thirds Legislative majority to pass budgets, “we need to anticipate that the budget will be delayed until that changes.”

Anticipating, he said, means making sure there’s bridge money in place so working families don’t suffer every year. “We forget about the most important part of economic growth — the ability of a family to work depends on child care.”

Agreed Jennifer Greppi of Parent Voices: “Child care is the engine that keeps this economy running.”

An aide read a statement from state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who said protests such as this “show the Republicans and all Californians how this budget-stalling is hurting real people.” He said Democrats will stick to their philosophy that “those who have benefitted the most from California should pay the most to keep California on track.”

“And that is why we don’t want John McCain!” a man shouted from among the onlookers.

Greppi urged people to call Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore, and state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, and demand that they “be leaders, stand up and reach across the aisle… and do what’s right for children living in your district.”

After that, I drove up to the state Department of Motor Vehicles facility on Claremont Avenue in Oakland’s Temescal District, where 10 employees — mostly clad in purple Service Employees International Union t-shirts — were outside with picket signs; about 40 had turned out for a 7:30 a.m. rally, they said. They’re among the state employees who stand to lose pay under Schwarzenegger’s proposed executive order lowering state workers’ salaries to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour.

“With this minimum wage, I’ll go into bankruptcy and lose everything I have… I’m on the edge now already,” said Michelle Freeman, 42, of Antioch, a married mother of two whose husband is a law enforcement officer. She has worked at the DMV for four years, but said “with these gas prices, it wouldn’t be worth me coming to work on minimum wage.”

Sonia Johnson, 40, of Oakland, has been with the DMV for 10 years, and said the pay cut “would really, detrimentally hurt my household because I’m the only working income right now — my husband is recuperating from heart failure, and we have two children.”

Kathy Shipp, 47, of Oakland, said she’s “very upset — we just bought a home last year and we’re just barely scraping by,” she said, adding her husband “just had to switch jobs because of the economy, so he’s still on probationary status” without full pay or benefits yet. A stay-at-home mom of three boys for 15 years before coming to the DMV three years ago, she had to rejoin the workforce to help support her family, and now that support is about to be weakened.

Laura Vincent, 55, of El Cerrito, has worked for the DMV for four years; the former West Contra Costa Unified School District worker said she’s paying off her son’s college loan debts. “I really love my job, I like to help people” as a DMV call center employee, she said, but it’s a “staggering” work load in which one operator can assist up to 200 callers in a single, long day. “I just don’t know any other telephone operator in the private sector who works for minimum wage and has that pressure to perform — our productivity is watched carefully — so I would hope the governor will reconsider.”

I hear as many as 100 SEIU-represented Caltrans workers will be rallying outside the agency’s building at 111 Grand Ave. in Oakland at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, July 31.