After much anticipation and a months-long standoff between Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento over whether to allow voters to decide on extending tax increases, Governor Jerry Brown released his May budget revise this morning.
Brown said his budget stops once-and-for-all the gimmicks that have carried California to the dismal financial situation it now faces.
“You have to be willing to cut, and you have to be willing to pay tax revenues to run an effective government,” said Brown. “Here in California, we actually have a balanced spending proposal. We’ve already taken half of it and put into law, which is amazing, but we’ve got another $11 billion to go.”
In the revised budget, the governor has renewed his call for five-year tax extensions to close California’s budget gap, even though additional revenue has come into state coffers since he initially made that pitch in January.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) recently announced that the state has received more tax revenue than projected, prompting many in the GOP to reject tax extensions as unnecessary.
However, Brown says the $6.6 billion in new revenue through fiscal year 2012 is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to California’s budget deficit, and larger measures are necessary to bring the state’s finances into balance and deal with the remaining $9.6 billion deficit.
The governor says a vote of the people on tax extensions is not off the table. He originally hoped to put it before voters in a June special election but was unable to get a two-thirds vote from the legislature to approve that step. He now seeks to put a tax extension measure on the Fall 2011 ballot and ask the legislature to approve some extensions before then.
Beyond fiscal measures, the governor voiced his support for structural reforms to the budget process, to ensure stability well into the future.
“Realignment saves money and does something about the recidivism rate. I think it makes a lot of sense,” he said. Also, “we need a spending limit. That would give voters more assurance that to the extent that we make more money, we’re going to pay down debt.”
He said he wanted o have the vote “as soon as possible” with fall being “the most logical time.”