Our View: Democrats still fudging state budget
Another year, another disastrous California budget. Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature finalized their budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which begins Sunday, July 1. The budget came in two weeks past the constitutional deadline.
This was the second budget created under terms of Proposition 25, which voters passed in 2010. It dropped to a majority from two-thirds the threshold for passing a budget in each house of the Legislature. That gave the majority Democrats almost total control and left the Republican minority with only the slightest influence.
To impose discipline on the majority, Proposition 25 mandated docking legislators' pay if a budget isn't passed by the June 15 constitutional deadline. In 2011, Controller John Chiang did just that, canceling their pay for 12 days. In April this year, a judge ruled Mr. Chiang had no authority to do so. The case is on appeal.
The lack of discipline has made the Legislature even more profligate. Last year, the budget included an anticipated $4 billion in revenue attributed to an economic boom. The economy improved, but it wasn't a boom. So $4 billion in automatic cuts had to be imposed later in the year.
This fiscal year, the budget anticipates General-Fund spending of $92 billion. But it also anticipates $8.5 billion in higher taxes generated by the initiative Gov. Jerry Brown is placing on the November ballot.
"The big picture is, that, if the taxes fail, we'll have a huge budget deficit in January," said Esmael Adibi, director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University. "There's no reasonable scenario if the tax increases fail."
The governor is using the threat of the draconian cuts to curry support for the initiative. He included $500 million in spending for the University of California and Cal State University to keep tuition steady. And he is threatening to cut the extra money — which would trigger tuition increases — if the tax measure fails. That is a venal way to prod energetic kids into campaigning for the tax increases.
We hope students realize there is a kicker: That $8.5 billion in higher taxes will sap an economy in which they'll be seeking jobs. Which is why it's imperative that the tax measure be defeated.