Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 10:26 am | Fair 75º

Gov. Jerry Brown: Going Straight to Voters with Funding Initiative for Education, Public Safety

Stakes are too high to let partisan gridlock derail plan to get state back on track

By Gov. Jerry Brown | @JerryBrownGov |

When I became governor again — 28 years after my last term ended in 1983 — California was facing a $26.6 billion budget deficit. It was the result of years of failing to match spending with tax revenues as budget gimmicks instead of honest budgeting became the norm.

Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown

In January, I proposed a budget that combined deep cuts with a temporary extension of some existing taxes. It was a balanced approach that would have finally closed our budget gap.

I asked the Legislature to enact this plan and to allow you, the people of California, to vote on it. I believed that you had the right to weigh in on this important choice: Should we decently fund our schools or lower our taxes? I don’t know how you would have voted, and we will never know. The Republicans refused to provide the four votes needed to put this measure on the ballot.

Forced to act alone, Democrats went ahead and enacted massive cuts and the first honest, on-time budget in a decade. But without the tax extensions, it simply was not possible to eliminate the state’s structural deficit.

The good news is that our financial condition is much better than a year ago. We cut the ongoing budget deficit by more than half, reduced the state’s work force by about 5,500 positions and cut unnecessary expenses such as cell phones and state cars. We actually cut state expenses by more than $10 billion. Spending is now at levels not seen since the 1970s. Our state’s credit rating has moved from “negative” to “stable,” laying the foundation for job creation and a stronger economic recovery.

Unfortunately, the deep cuts we made came at a huge cost. Schools have been hurt, and state funding for our universities has been reduced by 25 percent. Support for the elderly and the disabled has fallen to where it was in 1983. Our courts suffered debilitating reductions.

The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts.

That is why I am filing today an initiative with the Attorney General’s Office that would generate nearly $7 billion in dedicated funding to protect education and public safety. I am going directly to the voters because I don’t want to get bogged down in partisan gridlock as happened this year. The stakes are too high.

My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education.

Here are the details:

» Millionaires and high-income earners would pay up to 2 percent higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year would see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2 percent of California taxpayers would be affected by this increase.

» There would be a temporary half-cent increase in the sales tax. Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes would still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.

» This initiative would dedicate funding only to education and public safety — not on other programs that we simply can’t afford.

This initiative will not solve all of our fiscal problems, but it will stop further cuts to education and public safety. I ask you to join with me to get our state back on track.

Gov. Jerry Brown is the 39th governor of California.

» on 12.05.11 @ 11:58 PM

This is a self-serving, dishonest statement by a politician who who hasn’t told the truth to the voters since he was elected. There were no cuts to K-12 education or public safety in his last budget. The unions who contributed millions to his campaign were spared any pain; instead, it is the taxpayer who will take the brunt of the misguided policies of the Democratic Party. Since they control all levers of power in this dysfunctional state, maybe they can blame George Bush for their total lack of common sense.  If the voters elect to impose a higher sales tax on themselves, they are dumber than I thought.

» on 12.06.11 @ 11:25 AM

Wasn’t it under Brown’s previous stewardship, when public employee unions were allowed to form in our state and collective bargain?  Is this not where most of our deficit dollars are?  Unsustainable wages and pensions?  Maybe he should raise taxes on the wealthy!  After all the 1% who pay 50% of the income tax, in our state must not be paying their “fair share”.  Las Vegas….you may be able to sell your inventory of homes sooner than later!  How many left New York when taxes got out of hand?

» on 12.06.11 @ 11:56 AM

I can’t wait to vote no on Jerry’s latest crap sandwich. Prove to me that you’re cutting anything of substance before we talk about tax hikes.

If you want to talk fairness, how is it fair that California’s public-employee unions are showered with goodies and benefits while beleaguered taxpayers get nothing but the bill?

» on 12.06.11 @ 03:59 PM

Good grief! Can someone tell me intelligently why we elected this guy! We were $26.6 billion in the hole because your democrat run government spent more than the state as a sovereign economy earned, Jerry. On top of that neither you, nor your criminals in Sacramento had the fortitude to say no. Your answer is, as always, to pull more money out of the private sector to fund lavish bloated pensions, benefits and programs that enrich administrators, lobbyists, union bosses and other non essential personnel at the economy’s expense. You don’t seem to realize that you are in a friggen death spiral Jerry, that you are already one of the top taxing states and that your dopy progressive policies are driving even more wealth generation out of the state, further damaging your ability to make up the short falls in budgets. Then as if this stupid ignorance driven philosophy weren’t bad enough you insult our intelligence by saying it’s the other guys fault and students, cops and firefighters will suffer. You miserable dolt! How about taking as big a hit as you and your idiot party have landed on the private sector?

Oh, by the way Jerry, we don’t produce the oil revenue we did back when you and you r party decided to raid the private sector. And all those high tech industries that used to start up here, well they are leaving so fast the vacuum they are creating behind them is sucking what’s left of traditional manufacturing out with them. Get a friggen clue!

» on 12.11.11 @ 12:54 PM

Need $7B? Easy, close down all RDAs for $5.1B and cut pensions and government spending for $2B.

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