San Bernardino County lawmakers gave mixed reactions to California’s revised budget plan the governor released on Monday.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised plan would increase education spending by roughly $3 billion more than what he proposed in his first budget in January because the state got an unexpected $6.6 billion increase in state revenue. He also said he wanted to use the rest of the larger-than-projected revenue to go toward deficit reduction, which would help reduce the budget deficit from $15.4 billion to $10.8 billion – the original budget deficit was $26.6 billion but the state legislature approved a partial budget plan in March that reduced it to the $15.4 billion amount.
Brown said to close the remaining deficit gap, he still wanted to extend the tax increases that were set to expire this year. The remaining extra revenue, he said, would be used to reduce his proposed tax increases and restore a state program that provided tax credits to businesses that hire workers from blighted neighborhoods.
“I want to get the tax extensions,” he said. “[I’m] going to make whatever accommodations I’m going to have to make.”
Like Republicans throughout the country, though, GOP lawmakers with districts in San Bernardino County have said they would not accept any tax increases – California lawmakers must approve the tax extensions in the budget but a special election must be held for voters ultimately to decide if the tax extensions will continue.
“With $6.6 billion in new revenues, Republicans are right – we don’t need, and it’s ridiculous to ask voters for, five years of new taxes,” state Sens. Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga and Bob Huff of Walnut said in a joint statement on Monday.
“I don’t see any way you can justify a tax increase right now,” Assemblyman Paul Cook of Yucaipa said.
However, Democratic Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto said in an article in the San Bernardino County Sun that she was more accepting of Brown’s revised plans and his continuing calls for the tax extensions than her Republican colleagues. She also said, though, that she thought the additional revenue should be spread out and not redirected mostly toward education spending.
“It’s still not going to be enough,” she said of the $6.6 billion revenue gains. “Even though that sounds good, we still have a lot of work to do. I think that’s shortsighted. To say we’re going to use the new revenue just for education. Our caucus will work twice as hard to make sure we cover all the areas, including education, that need help in our state.”
Lawmakers and Brown must reach a budget agreement by June 30 when the state’s fiscal year ends. If they fail to do so, California could be forced to issue i.o.u.’s like it did in 2009.
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