New Brown budget pushes tax increases

May 14, 2012

By Brian Calle

Gov. Jerry Brown and his allies, in predictable fashion, are using California’s latest $16 billion budget black hole as a tool to justify big tax hikes. Brown did so today in presenting the May Revise of his 2012-13 budget proposal.

And, they argue, the consequences for rejecting the governor’s November ballot proposition to raise taxes would be damage to public education. Their approach should backfire.

In a statement about the state budget deficit ballooning from $9 billion in January to $16 billion, Brown made the case for more taxes: “We can’t balance the budget with cuts alone; that would just further undermine our public schools.”  Joining the same chorus, California Teachers Association president Dean E. Vogel said that the news makes “it all the more crucial that voters pass the governor’s tax measure in November.”

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors though. “Everything Governor Brown does between now and November is designed to convince voters to tax themselves more,” former California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore told me. “Look for draconian budget cuts but no real government reform. The governor needs billions of dollars to, at the very least, keep government retiree pension plans solvent.”

Brown’s announcement of the state’s enhanced fiscal woes and his proposed fix is paradoxical—if not patently absurd. “The budget I am proposing will boost funding for education, protect public safety and prevent an even deeper round of trigger cuts,” he said. While acknowledging the state is dangerously cash-strapped, he is also seeking to increase spending for education by 16 percent; follow a plan that follows the same failed policies of the last decade; and spend more money than the state takes in, offering no changes to the system.

Union power

If nothing else, the budget situation points to the power teachers’ unions have within the Brown administration and California government in general. This is particularly true of the juggernaut CTA, which was recently dubbed by City Journal as the “Worst union in America” because of the lopsided influence it has on public policy in California.

Education spending is perhaps the Holy Grail of politics in the Golden State. So it is no surprise Brown’s administration is using education as a justification for increasing taxes. Improving education is popular with voters. But money is not the major problem facing California’s education. Instead, the state is in need of structural reform.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, in an email exchange argues that because the governor has failed to produce any meaningful reform proposals, his tax initiative will be “toast.” It is not so much the new budget numbers that will affect the governor’s tax measure “as it is the abject lack of any reforms” he has proposed, Coupal argues.

Claremont McKenna College political science professor Jack Pitney may have stated it best when he told the Los Angeles times that, in light of the budget news, the reaction to Brown’s tax initiatives could be something like this: “You can’t even handle the money we’ve already sent you. Why should we send you more?”

Californians should not be duped by the rhetoric. The new state budget shortfall illustrates why taxpayers ought not send more money to politicians in Sacramento — not, as the governor argues, why more money should be sent to the Capitol. Sacramento lawmakers have badly stewarded taxpayer resources for far too long.


Write a comment
  1. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 14 May, 2012, 16:51

    The Party of Government said “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

    How do we know this is a real crisis?

    How can Gov. Brown report a $90 billion increase in Gross Domestic Product in March and by May he is crying the state is going in the hole? Hmmmmm?

    Reply this comment
  2. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 14 May, 2012, 21:04

    Wayne– I spent 4 hours today in Sacto looking at the public numbers—- agree with Brown or not— the numbers paint a crisis at this point– no one knows what Q3 revenue will be– not possible to predict.

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 14 May, 2012, 21:16

    Gov. Clown concocted a budget that he knew was a misestimate. All of us said that at the time it was concocted. Even laymen knew that the revenue he proposed was a total farce. This was their intention from the beginning. To make everything appear as if it is blowing up a few months before the election to extort voters into approving higher taxes. You don’t have to work at Scotland Yard to figure this crap out. The lies that they bombard the public with to fool people are notorious. They lie as individuals and they lie as groups. You can’t trust anything they tell us. All are flim-flam artists and con men. I hope it all backfires on them and the ones who caused it all get caught holding the empty bag.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 14 May, 2012, 23:39

    Ted Steele says:
    at this point– no one knows what Q3 revenue will be– not possible to predict.

    LOL at no one knows what the numbers will be!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  5. cacheguy
    cacheguy 15 May, 2012, 06:49

    Claremont McKenna College political science professor Jack Pitney may have stated it best when he told the Los Angeles times that, in light of the budget news, the reaction to Brown’s tax initiatives could be something like this: “You can’t even handle the money we’ve already sent you. Why should we send you more?”

    We have to stop “feeding the beast”. It is the only way out of this mess.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 15 May, 2012, 06:50

    LOL– go ahead poodle with yet another of your famously wrong predictions! ™

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 15 May, 2012, 10:44

    OK, I have $100 that the pension sales tax fails-and I am taking on ALL takers.

    Post your bets losers, and make sure you can pay up come November 🙂

    Reply this comment
  8. robert stone
    robert stone 15 May, 2012, 11:03

    the 10 percent enploy payroll increase helped cause the problem. so who signed off on it

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 15 May, 2012, 21:44

    lol… the poodle would pay! I doubt he has ever had $100.

    Reply this comment
  10. Edward Rasen
    Edward Rasen 15 May, 2012, 22:21

    Jerry Brown knows that if he yells and screams enough times, that most people will believe him. He is only interested in appeasing the unions so they keep funding the Democratic Party. Jerry is simply a street hustler operating a shell game with a couple of shills like Speaker of the House Johnnie Perez. Raising taxes will not solve the financial problems but when people realize they have been swindled, Brown and Perez will be long gone.

    Reply this comment
  11. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 16 May, 2012, 08:50

    A state that moves forward with High Speed Rail is a state that neither needs nor merits another tax increase.

    Reply this comment
  12. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 16 May, 2012, 08:59

    California has the 2nd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.3% tax bracket starts at $48,029 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% tax starts at $1,000,000.

    Governor Brown is putting on the ballot a prop to change the “millionaires’ tax” to 13.3%, starting at $500,000 – including capital gains. If approved, CA will be by far #1 in income tax rates.

    We will be 21% higher than the 2nd highest state (Hawaii), 34% higher than the third highest state (Oregon), and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest – including seven states with zero income tax.

    Reply this comment
  13. Ian Random
    Ian Random 16 May, 2012, 10:18

    You what would be fun? A voluntary higher tax rate like Massachusetts. That way we could see how serious they are about tax increases.

    Reply this comment

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