A new low, even for California Republicans

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to deal with California's budget problems has come to a stop. Two Republican votes are needed in each legislative house, and GOP leaders have announced that any Republican who votes for more taxes will be considered a traitor.

In an attempt to begin to solve financial problems that have been 30 years in the making, resulting in a $26.4 billion deficit for 2011-12, Brown has put together a budget approximately equal in cuts and in revenues: $12.5 billion in cuts and approximately $14.5 billion in revenues. The cuts to health care and human services are truly brutal - as usual, the poor and disabled fare the worst. There are also cuts to education.

Over half the additional revenue is to come from a five-year extension of the temporary tax increases made in 2009, mainly in income, sales and vehicle license fees, and therein lies the problem. The legislature has voted to support the bill, but threatened with being called a traitor, every Republican has refused to vote for the special election that is necessary to allow citizens to vote for the extension of these taxes for just five years.

Since the 2010 election the legislature can now pass budgets by majority vote, a two-thirds majority is needed to put the tax extension measures on the ballot. Democrats control both legislative houses but lack a two-thirds majority in either.

This means Republicans are not just refusing to vote for tax extensions, but are refusing the people the right to vote at all, especially since recent polls show growing support for the tax extensions in order to avoid a budget of all cuts, which would be, in the governor's words, "a budget from hell."

This is a new low, even for Republicans. But it fits with what's happening elsewhere. As a letter to the Sacramento Bee said, "Wherever the Republicans have the power, they immediately try to cut taxes of the corporations and the rich, such as they have done in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina and Pennsylvania."

The Republicans have begun a campaign of destruction of the union movement by blaming the economic crisis on "greedy state workers and their bloated pension plans." And instead of using their newfound influence in state and national economic planning to perhaps provide jobs for the millions of unemployed, they restore the Bush tax cuts for the very richest, and then tell us they must cut Social Security to help close the national deficit.

Now, back to California. Assuming that we eventually pass some form of Gov. Brown's hard-times budget, we'll have five years in which to restore corporations' share of taxes to their 1981 level of $8.3 billion.

Other possible measures include bringing in $2 billion through broadening the sales tax base to include services, and adding $4 billion or more by reinstating an 11 percent income tax on the top 1 percent of individuals, who take in more than 25 percent of the income in California. An oil severance tax would bring in $1.2 billion - California is the only oil-producing state without one.

And let's not forget the possibility of a split roll for Prop. 13, so corporations would pay their fair share of property taxes. In 1977-78, California ranked fifth in the country in property taxes. In 2006-7, we ranked 36th.

Thirty years ago, we were the "Golden State." Our educational system ranked among the best in the world. Today California ranks 47th in K-12 spending.

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  • As a moderate voter, I've been moving in recent years from "frustrated" to "furious" over Republican policy. I'm starting to think that Democrats could benefit from a true "scorched Earth" policy.

    Republicans won't play political ball? Fine. Unleash the hounds, and make all the cuts that are necessary to balance the budget. But, don't start with education ... start instead with the things that people will notice.

    Let's start with the highway funds. Tired of getting your teeth jarred by chuckholes on the highway? Thank a Republican. Then let's get rid of that great socialist boondoggle of red tape -- medical/medicare and social security. Can't afford to retire? Can't afford your medications? The Republican base can thank a Republican. Let's continue with various traffic improvement programs. Sick of spending hours away from your family, idling in traffic? Thank a Republican.

    The Republican strategy appears designed to hold politics at ransom, bartering chaos against giving in to them, repeatedly. Fine. Give them chaos.

    Posted by Rob, 03/29/2011 12:49am (5 years ago)

  • The people have voted. We the people rejected all additional tax increases to solve the budget deficit. We have experienced thirty years of tax increases followed by additional wasteful spending. Cut the budget by $26 Billion and get back to us.

    Posted by Tax Payer, 03/25/2011 3:39pm (5 years ago)

  • So Gov. Brown wants to give the people a choice – I agree – tax payers should have a choice.

    What I disagree with is – why not also give us a choice on Pension Reform, Tenure, and other reforms – as a tax payer I would love to vote on both.

    And I sure the Republican would let both options go to the ballot.

    In other words the Democrats are holding it up as much as the Republicans.


    Posted by Don, 03/25/2011 2:46pm (5 years ago)

  • I for one appreciate the Republicans going to a "new low" to help keep me from paying a new high in taxes.

    Posted by HippySlayer, 03/25/2011 2:46pm (5 years ago)

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