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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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Cutting through the rhetoric on prison healthcare

Steve Frank, publisher of Stephen Frank’s California Political News and Views and a past president of the arch-conservative California Republican Assembly, let his rhetoric get in the way of facts with this tirade he posted today:

A judge has ruled that criminals are not comfortable in California prisons. he is about to rule that the State must give him $250 million now and $3 billion by the end of June, 2009. The State does not have the money, even if it were a good expenditure — which it is not. The judge would literally be taking money from children, education, the elderly and public safety. He would need, according to Dan Walters, sent Federal agents to steal the money. The bigger question here is if the judge can take the money, what stops another judge from saying we are abusing our children by not spending $20,000 per year on their education–and taking that money. Then you have welfare programs a judge can rule are under funded–and the Feds can steal that money. At what point do we stop electing governors and legislators and just give in to a totalitarian State run by unelected Federal judges. If the judge gets a dime, we no longer need Sacramento — judges will budget and tax us.

Well, I covered this hearing Monday, and Frank’s description parts with reality in several ways. Let’s break it down.

(1.) “A judge has ruled that criminals are not comfortable in California prisons.” No, a judge has ruled that criminals’ constitutional rights are being violated because they’re needlessly dying due to healthcare so poor it qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. We’re not talking about sofas and televisions, we’re talking about basic medical care.

(2.) “State does not have the money, even if it were a good expenditure — which it is not.” It’s not a matter of “good” expenditure or “bad” expenditure; the state long ago lost a class-action lawsuit, then failed to meet the court’s requirements for fixing the problem, and so only then lost control of its own prison healthcare system. It has known for years the fix would be costly, and even has known the exact amount since early this year, and still has failed to act.

(3.) “The judge would literally be taking money from children, education, the elderly and public safety.” Actually, no — the $250 million the judge’s receiver is demanding in the coming weeks is already appropriated specifically for prison healthcare construction under AB 900, a $7.8 billion prison-expansion bill Schwarzenegger signed into law in May 2007. As for the rest of the $3.5 billion the receiver wants in this fiscal year, the state has clearly said it believes such money should come from lease-revenue bonds, not the general fund. It’s just that Legislative Republicans have blocked all efforts to raise this money so far.

(4.) “He would need, according to Dan Walters, sent Federal agents to steal the money.” That’s not what Dan said; he clearly posed that as a rhetorical hypothetical.

(5.) “The bigger question here is if the judge can take the money, what stops another judge from saying we are abusing our children by not spending $20,000 per year on their education — and taking that money. Then you have welfare programs a judge can rule are under funded — and the Feds can steal that money.” Well, only if the state loses class-action lawsuits proving it has denied schoolkids or welfare recipients their constitutional rights, and then utterly fails to remediate the problem. Again, the state has had many years in which to address this on its own, and chose not to do so; now it’s out of the state’s hands.

This sounds like yet another case of conservatives complaining whenever a judge finds government has failed to do its job, and requires it to step up and do so. It’s not judicial activism; the judiciary’s very purpose is to guarantee everyone — even unpopular felons — their constitutional rights, and that’s exactly what it’s doing here. This is how government is supposed to work, the judiciary checking and balancing the executive and Legislative branches’ abject failure. California dodged these costs for years, and now some just can’t stand that the tab has finally come due.

True, it’s unfortunate that this happens during a budget crunch and economic downturn — though if Sacramento would buck up and fix our structural deficit by creating reasonable revenue streams, we wouldn’t be in this mess — but that’s precisely the kind of political concern judges aren’t supposed to harbor. Again, California saw this coming yet continues to bury its head in the sand and blame it on the judge rather than taking responsibility for its own shortcomings.