Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Governor-elect Brown and the State Budget

I hope he's serious about this, and isn't just blowing smoke to sound good:

"I'm going to try to get the budget agreements done within about 60 days. I don't think we have a lot of time to waste," he said.

Brown made the remark during a budget forum in Los Angeles, but he demurred when asked by reporters whether his proposal would contain only spending cuts or would include new taxes.

"We'll present a budget on Jan. 10. It will be a very tough budget, but it will be transparent," he said. "We'll lay it out as best I can. We've been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I'm shocked."

He sounds realistic; I hope that lasts. I'm sorry for being cynical, but I've been burned plenty of times on this.

He continued, regarding education:

"This is really a huge challenge, unprecedented in my lifetime," Brown told hundreds of educators, union representatives and parents who had gathered at UCLA. "I can't promise you there won't be more cuts, because there will be."

As much as I don't want a pay cut or furlough days or larger classes--or any of the other things that happen when education funding gets cut, even though the further away from the classroom you go, the less the cuts are--I can't see how to balance California's budget while leaving half the state's budget off (education) off the table.

Count on the education lobby, though, to disagree. Fortunately, there was a realistic response to their crap:

Educators responded by calling for an end to cuts, asking for greater discretion at the local level as to how dwindling dollars are spent, urging the state to seek more federal funding and requesting legislation that would allow them to increase local property taxes with 55% of the vote rather than the current requirement of two-thirds.

"We can't take any more cuts. You really need to look elsewhere," said Bernie Rhinerson, the chief district relations officer at the San Diego Unified School District. "We are at the cliff."

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer grew visibly frustrated by some of the comments about increasing funding of programs, such as online education.

"Anyone who thinks we get by that without everyone getting hit probably should live in Mendocino County," he said, referring to the region known for marijuana growing. "There are going to be cuts."

But wait, there's more:

"So far, I've heard good ideas about how to spend more money. Great. It ain't there. It's time to make cuts, I believe deep cuts," Lockyer said. "I'd do the 25% across the board and just say those who wanted less government, you're going to get your wish. In other communities that are willing to put something on the ballot to make up that difference, they're going to have a higher service level."

Educators appeared shaken by Lockyer's remarks.

"There is no more meat on this bone to carve, the only thing left is amputation," said David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers' Assn. "If we do what Mr. Grinch wants us to do, the possibility of shutting down schools is a reality. Is that really what we want to do?"

Lockyer later clarified that he had not been making a policy recommendation, but rather analyzing what would happen unless voters sanction increased spending.

I won't vote for a cent of increased taxes until there are genuine budget cuts. There are entire departments of our state government that could be shut down or consolidated with others--let's start there before we try to get more money from me to waste elsewhere.

I wish Brown well. I hope he lives up to his own rhetoric. The EIA says the following, though, pointing out the sheer idiocy/hypocrisy/partisan nature of the CTA:
Remember those halcyon days of yesteryear – by which I mean October 2010 – when the California Teachers Association was spending $3.6 million to help elect Jerry Brown as governor of the state? The union said things about him like:

“Whitman’s plan calls for cutting the state budget by $15 billion, which could equate to another $7 billion in cuts to already beleaguered schools. Brown has made a commitment to protect schools.”

$15 billion! Shocking! Thanks heavens we elected Brown!

At least until this morning’s newspapers hit the stands.

San Francisco Chronicle – “Jerry Brown warns educators to brace for more cuts

Bloomberg – “California Teachers Fear `Amputations’ as Brown Seeks to Cut $28 Billion

Some think this is a ploy – describing cuts so drastic that the public will beg for a tax increase (on others, of course) in order to avoid them. Maybe. But I think CTA is going to learn that Jerry Brown is not Gray.


maxutils said...

At what point does Brown get non-qualified praise?

Darren said...

When he accomplishes something of which I approve, rather than just talking about it.

mazenko said...

I think you are dismissing decades of accomplishments. When will you give the guy some deserved praise? He is quite the practical centrist you seem to seek.

Darren said...

What are these accomplishments of which you speak? Being elected to office isn't necessarily an accomplishment.

I like the way he spoke as mayor of Oakland, but he didn't "accomplish" much. I give unqualified praise to him for helping establish the Oakland Military Institute, though, of which I've written before.

Brown isn't a centrist. He's all over the map, depending on the situation, but that isn't a centrist.

maxutils said...

He's actually reasonable, honest, a nd ready to help.

Darren said...

Pretend I'm from Missouri: show me. I'm not saying that he won't accomplish anything, only that I'll wait until he accomplishes something before I laud him. In that regard I'm more judicious than the Nobel peace prize committee....

mazenko said...

American Conservative magazine called him a more conservative governor than Reagan, noting his ability to slash spending in order to meet budget deficits as governor, and later as mayor. He supported the Balanced Budget Amendment and fiscal restraint in the wake of Prop 13 and created one of the biggest budget surpluses in CA history - $5 billion. As Attorney General he brought down crime rates, and took on mortgage corruption beating both Countrywide and Bank of America. As mayor he revitalized downtown Oakland while facing a serious economic downturn. He used his skills to attract billions in investment, while also working with critics who feared gentrification and struggles for public housing. He very effectively navigated both business groups and poverty advocates and managed to strike a revitalization deal that won praise from both sides. He took on local school boards and teachers unions and fought to establish the first two charter schools in Oakland. He has been an effective political force and advocate winning state and local elections as well as staging a strong presidential run, effectively opening discussion and debate. A little research reveals all this - it's no mystery.

Governor Moonbeam has had a very significant and effective career in public service, and to imply he hasn't accomplished anything yet is pessimistically naive and ideological.

skeneogden said...

Reminds me of the old saying about the "Two wolves (the teachers union) and a sheep (the taxpayers) sitting around trying to decide what to have for dinner.

It would almost be a relief to only be fleeced. California is on the road to some major pain, either in the form of higher taxes or budget cuts. Not being an employee of the state, I'll settle for the budget cuts.

Darren said...

Mazenko, I didn't know attorneys general reduced crime rates. I know they're supposed to investigate state crimes--not crimes like "how much money did a private foundation pay Sarah Palin to speak", which he did investigate, but "ACORN gets a lot of state money but was supporting what they thought was prostitution", which he didn't.

I admit, I'm pleased to learn you read American Conservative magazine, but I'll disagree with them.

And there's a reason Brown was called Governor Moonbeam. As I said, he's all over the map, depending on the issue, but that doesn't make him "moderate".

mazenko said...

OK ... but, accomplishments? You said to show you.

And you give him no credit? No praise on the fiscal front? Nothing you approve of? Balanced budgets? Surpluses? Revitalization with private money during a budget crisis? Nothing you'll laud? Nothing you approve of? Nothing?

Darren said...

I'm waiting for him to do what he says he's going to do. When he does that, *then* I'll praise him. What he did 30 years ago ran the gamut from good to bad, but that was 30 years ago. I've not been impressed with him as attorney general, that's for sure, but it's also not important. I only care now about what he'll accomplish as governor, which so far is nothing--because he's not even governor yet. Unlike you, I'm not ready to toss rose petals in front of him, in part because I don't want him to blow them up my @$$.