Photo: Associated Press
California Governor Jerry Brown released a revised state budget on Monday, calling for $8.3 billion in spending cuts in an attempt to address the state’s $15.7 billion budget shortfall.The cuts will scale back work hours for public sector employees to reduce compensation by 5 per cent. In addition, Brown’s plan would slash the state’s health care and welfare programs for low-income residents and the elderly by more than $1 billion.
Brown sounded defiant at a Monday press conference. “It’s taken a decade to get into this mess. Before I leave here, we will be in solid fiscal balance.”
The revised budget plan is counting on the November passage of a ballot initiative that will raise sales taxes on all California residents, as well as income taxes on high earners. Although polls show a majority of California residents in favour of the tax increases, The New York Times calls the proposal “hardly a sure thing.”
If the ballot imitative goes down, $6.1 million “trigger” cuts would kick in, primarily aimed at education. Brown is countering the specter of the cuts in public schools by promising an increase of 16 per cent in funding for K-14 education if the tax hikes are passed.
The spending cuts proposed by Brown are expected to cause turmoil in the state legislature, especially among fellow Democrats; California has endured a number of spending cuts in recent years.
During his Monday speech in Sacramento, Brown seemed empathetic toward the concerns of Californians, but also wary of the fiscal consequences of delaying action. “I don’t like making additional cuts, and I recognise the impact they have on Californians. They are difficult — but necessary — in order to get us back on firm fiscal footing until California fully recovers from the global economic recession.”
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