June 5, 2009

Editorial:

Budget Cuts to Highlight Legislature’s Priorities

On March 26 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger opened the debate on the budget with cuts, cuts, cuts! He painted a dire picture and offered only one solution to the State’s $21 billion deficit — cut State services.

He went on to outline proposed cuts which included terminate health coverage for nearly 1 million children; cutting College fee assistance for thousands of students; cut all general funding for the state park system; proposed eliminating CalWORKS, the state’s welfare to work program, which provides more than 500,000 families an average of $526 per month; all this in conjunction with the talk about cutting funding for education.

It does not go unnoticed that all talks of budget cuts only affect the poor and middle class and that there is no discussion of increasing revenue. Based on the results of the recent election Governor Schwarzenegger has assumed that the state’s voters, at least those that took the time to vote, don’t want to pay more taxes and that these services should be cut!

Yet according to a poll conducted between May 16th and May 20th of 603 people who voted in the election and 405 who did not, 7 out of 10 did not like that the Governor and the Legislature keep balancing the budget “on the backs of average Californians” instead of requiring special interests to pay their fair share. Only 20% thought all Californians were being asked to share the pain equally.

Other findings from the poll indicated that 62% of “no” voters supported increased taxes on alcohol, 62% supported increased taxes on tobacco, 60% supported an oil extraction tax on oil companies drawing oil and gas in California, 58% supported not allowing corporations buying property to be protected by Prop 13, 55% supported not allowing tax credits for companies to go over 50% of what they owe in taxes. 65% of all voters agreed that shared responsibility should be part of the solution and not simply reliance on spending cuts to balance the budget.

While state legislatures go through the process of looking at where to cut the budget, it would be wise to also take a look at areas of increased revenue. As the polls indicate California’s do not want services cut and they are not opposed to paying their fair share.

Some cutting in State spending is inevitable and necessary but in making their cuts the legislature will also be outlining their priorities for the state and what they think the role of state government should be – protecting the incomes of the wealthy or, protecting education, the welfare of our senior citizens, and as the safety net for our low-income. We look forward to seeing what sort of vision our elected leaders have for the State of California.

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