Santa Clarita representatives don’t like it.
Fixing a $17.2 billion dollar budget deficit is no picnic for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and so far his proposals have not won over state Republicans, including Santa Clarita’s elected representatives Senator George Runner and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth.
While the budget takes a different approach that the previously considered 10% across the board cuts, it has found enemies because it searches out new revenues and leverages.
By far the most talked about idea in the proposal is a plan to modernize the state lottery and sell future revenues for immediate cash. The cash would then be set aside in a “rainy day fund.” That plan has to be approved by voters in November, and if it doesn’t pass, an automatic one cent sales tax increase would kick in.
A one cent increase may appear minor, but according to Assemblyman Cameron Smyth it’s anything but; “It may not seem like a lot, but a one cent sales tax increase is $6 billion a year in tax increases.”
George Runner also sounded off on the budget, picking apart the plan to sell future lottery revenues. “The governor’s lottery scheme is classic ‘counting your chickens before they hatch’ budgeting, and the voters are left with the choice going along with his plan or paying more taxes,” said Runner. “But what the voters demand and deserve is a budget that lives within California’s means.”
The reactions echo state Republicans’ repeated charges that California has plenty of revenue coming in, but just doesn’t spend it wisely. “While I believe the May Revision gives us a good starting point in our negotiations, I feel the Governor’s proposal doesn’t do nearly enough to change the way we do business in California,” said Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Budget Vice Chair.
That is in stark contrast to how State Democrats see the problem. New Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) had this to say about the budget proposal; ““I am happy to hear that the Governor realizes we need to bring in more revenue, that the budget deficit cannot be solved through cuts alone,” Speaker Bass said.
The debate has only just begun for State officials, as the legislature will soon begin working towards crafting a budget that can carry the 2/3 majority vote needed to pass.
On the local end, LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich released a statement offering some advice for Sacramento; “The state legislature should not balance its budget on the back of California taxpayers -- it needs to cut its own bloated bureaucracy. Any proposals to raise taxes should be dead on arrival.”