As you all may know, California is in a world of hurt. The state is suffering from a huge budget deficit. The recently elected governor, Jerry Brown, has proposed to close the shortfall with a combination of spending cuts and by letting California's voters -- the people who pay the taxes, especially since the tax share paid by corporations has gone down -- vote on whether or not they want to keep tax increases that will expire on July 1 in effect.
So, basically, Brown is saying, let's cut spending, and let's allow the voters to decide whether they are willing to pay the same amount in taxes as they are now.
Let's take a look at what Brown has put on the chopping block. Welfare grants will be reduced by eight percent and instead of being able to keep benefits for five years, they will lose them after four. Want state assistance to provide day care for your 11 or 12 year old? After July 1, it's not happening. And elderly and disabled people will get their services slashed.
In addition, fees at community colleges will go up from $26 per credit hour to $36 per credit hour. And that's just the beginning of pain for higher education. State colleges will lose $1 billion in funding.
Total cuts to the state budget will come in at $11 billion. Yesterday, I saw one of the effects of this. A state beach didn't have lifeguards there, because the state couldn't afford to pay them on weekdays. But only welfare queens want state services, according to spray tan liars. And nobody will miss the government if it's taken away, according to bearded and discredited lying lobbyists.
So that's the spending side of things. It's a pretty extensive list of cuts and it gets the state halfway to its goal.
How does Brown want to complete the balancing of the budget?
He wants to extend temporary tax increases enacted under Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009. There was a one percent increase in the state sales tax, an 0.5 percent increase in the fee for vehicle licenses, an 0.25 percent increase in marginal tax rates, and a reduction of $210 in the credit taxpayers get for dependents.
And he wants to let the voters decide whether they want to keep these tax increases in place or if they want more spending cuts.
Let the voters decide. Sounds like a basic tenet of democracy, right? Put it to a vote, let the people cast their ballots, and then see what happens. And it doesn't always work out the way the pundits think.
Last fall, San Diego's voters were asked to hike the sales tax by 0.5 percent, which would have made the sales tax in San Diego 9.25 percent. The measure, which was designed to help alleviate cuts, had the support of major unions, the mayor, and most of the city council. It still didn't pass.
But despite this, California republicans don't want to allow a vote on extending the tax increases. Brown needs two republican votes in both the state house and senate. There was a push to brand republicans who cast a vote to allow state voters to cast ballots on keeping the Schwarzenegger tax hikes traitors. Fortunately, that failed.
Brown seems to have decided that he's going to go around the republicans and take his case directly to California's voters. "We are going to put it before the people one way or another," he said in an interview. And he's got some potent allies on his side. The California Federation of Teachers says it will work to get signatures.
I for one cannot understand why the republicans are so opposed to allowing voters to decide whether or not they want to keep tax hikes put in place by Schwarzenegger in place. Let the voters decide.
Or are they afraid of what might happen? Californa is the state that started the tax revolt back in the 1970s. How badly would it hurt the republican spin machine if Golden State voters decided that when it comes down to it, we'll accept a higher tax rate to avoid cutting services too much? Would the spin machine be devastated by a vote that showed that citizens are willing to pay more in taxes so that education isn't gutted more and the elderly and disabled can get services?
Are they afraid that it would kill their spin that people will always vote against a tax increase? Would it kill their lies about how the problem isn't with the revenue side but with the spending side?
I think we know what the answer is.
But that still doesn't excuse their opposition to allowing the people to vote on their taxes.
Especially since we all know that if Brown gets his way and the tax hikes pass, the national punditocracy will just dismiss it as those hippies in California smoking too much weed.