CRP Blog



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jerry Brown’s Budget Proposal: A Union-First Budget

Yesterday, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his much anticipated budget proposal, which calls for some much needed cuts, and as expected, a plea to again extend the temporary tax hikes set to expire in June. Judging from some of the feedback from the press, many see the spending cuts as Jerry's reasoned efforts to close the budget gap, and show that Brown is willing to take on his own party. But a closer look reveals that Jerry's stated choice between draconian cuts or more taxes is a false dichotomy. It conveniently takes attention from the real battle, the battle between the taxpayers and the state's entrenched bureaucracy.

Brown has preposterously proposed to enact over $60 billion dollars in new taxes over the next 5 years, or as he’d like to have us believe, California will soon mirror a scene from Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

It's disappointing that Governor Brown isn’t addressing the structural problems that make up California’s deep $28.5 billion dollar deficit. Public employee unions are driving the state to fiscal insolvency right before our eyes, and yet he continues to evade the problem. This becomes clearer after flipping through a couple of pages of Brown’s proposal. As they say, the devil is in the details. Look at this information, taken from the Governor's own summary of his budget proposal:

Spending reductions proposed by Governor Brown for services:

1. $1.7 billion to Medi-Cal.
2. $1.5 billion to California’s welfare-to-work program (CalWORKs).
3. $750 million to the Department of Developmental Services.
4. $500 million to the University of California.
5. $500 million to California State University.

That’s roughly $5 billion in cuts to services provided by the state's taxpayers. In contrast, here are the cuts proposed by Brown for state government operations:

1. $200 million through a variety of actions, including reorganizations, consolidations and other efficiencies.
2. 10 percent reduction in take-home pay for state employees not currently covered under collective bargaining agreements.

Do you see the difference? Billions in cuts to those receiving services, but only scant millions in cuts to state bureaucrats. This, more than anything else, tells us all we need to know about who Brown really favors.

Also missing from Brown's budget formula? How about some long-overdue pension reform? The truth be told, Brown would rather raise taxes on millions of hard working Californians still reeling from the effects of the recession, rather than pick a fight with his own party and its government union masters. He's willing to throw the blind, elderly and disabled under the wheels of the bus rather than tell his campaign contributors they're going to have to learn how to make do with less. Brown said during his campaign for governor that we have to “pull together…as Californians first.” Brown’s refusal to address the structural inefficiencies with our system of government makes it obvious that its still "government first," and he's beholden to the public employee unions.

Jerry Brown’s budget proposal is a budget designed to protect the government class, not the people.

You can reach Micah @ mgrant@cagop.org


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