What was supposed to be the big news today actually broke last week when Jerry Brown’s full budget was accidentally posted to the CA Budget website. This prompted the governor to hastily move up his press conference from today to last Thursday, after it was clear he couldn’t stem the flow of reporters asking questions.
Brown appeared confident and answered questions quickly, but often with a shrug of the shoulders and his hands in the air, proclaiming “this is the best we can do.” Of particular interest to many reporters in the room was the fact that the success of the budget hinges precariously on the passage of Brown’s own proposed tax increase via ballot measure.
Brown assured reporters (and those watching via live webcast) that this was not a hostage situation, referring to the education budget falling squarely in the crosshairs of trigger cuts should Brown’s revenue-boosting measure fail. He simply echoed earlier sentiments, saying that education is the lion’s share of the general fund and by nature would be the first to get cut. Transitional kindergarten is already one candidate on the chopping block that is making waves.
Even so, analysis of Brown’s proposed tax measure has come fast and furious, with the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office saying that “Brown’s plan would raise only $4.8 billion in the first budget cycle,” putting it $2.1 billion short of Brown’s $6.9 billion claim. They agreed on the amount coming from sales tax but differed on how much a temporary five-year tax on the wealthiest Californians would raise, citing Brown’s assumption that high incomes would remain constant.
In other news this week, the fight over maps created by the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission continues. Backers of the measure to repeal the Commission’s work are confident it will pass. As such, they issued a new appeal to the California Supreme Court asking for a stay on implementing the new maps based on the likelihood that their measure will qualify. It’s within the law, but the Court has not been too sympathetic to their cause, ruling late last year to dismiss a case brought by a group challenging the maps.
And finally, in a nod to the tenets of accountability and transparency that are the cornerstones of California Forward’s approach to reforming government, the California State Assembly complied with a court order to release thousands of pages of budget records, effectively ending a spat between Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D- La Cañada Flintridge) and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.
Glad that one is behind us and that the decision landed on the side of the public.