Can't Face The Criticism? Stop The Cuts

Posted on 12 May 2011

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email

By Nancy Berlin (California Partnership) and Anthony Wright (Health Access California)

In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway indicated that she and fellow members of the Republican Caucus were unwilling to develop and release their own plans for resolving California’s remaining $15.4 billion deficit because any forthcoming proposal would be subject to “criticism.”

In the same article, Assembylwoman Conway said she was opposed to cuts to California’s K-12 education, while at the same time rejecting the Governor’s modest revenue proposals that call for extending existing revenue streams scheduled to end this summer. Such a proposal, without revenues, would require unimaginable cuts to the rest of the budget (mostly health and human services), bump up against federal law and court-ordered minimum requirements for these services, and even then the math won’t add up.

Californians have already witnessed tremendous spending cuts that disproportionately target the state’s essential health care and human services programs. The health and human services cuts made in March, which accounted for approximately 50% of Governor Brown’s total cuts package, are already having sweeping impacts on millions of Californians, including thousands right in Assembylwoman Conway’s own district.  

For the countless families, seniors, children, and people with disabilities negatively impacted by these cuts – this is not a partisan issue. Speak with them and they will tell you that their lives are, without a doubt, more difficult; that the path to getting back on their feet and back to work is much narrower; and that access to even the most basic necessities is far more remote.    

That being said, closing the $15.4 billion deficit through any additional cuts to health care and social services is simply unacceptable, especially given the substantial bleeding of our health and human services infrastructure in recent years. Over the last three years, vital services that provide life-sustaining assistance to some of the most vulnerable Californians have been absolutely gutted, with cumulative cuts over the last few years totaling in at nearly $30 billion. Additional cuts to these programs are not just unimaginable. In many cases, they are unworkable.

If saving California’s education is a priority, as indeed it absolutely should be, then passing the Governor’s modest revenue solutions is the only available means for doing so.

As Assembly Minority Leader, the Republican Caucus looks to Assemblywoman Conway for leadership. As an elected official, Assemblywoman Conway’s constituents look to her to help resolve the budget in a responsible and timely manner -- even if it means opening the door to criticism and public scrutiny.  

Californians recognize that we simply cannot afford an alternative budget that doesn’t include some form of modest revenues (and yes, let’s be honest, you can’t get much more ‘modest’ than simply extending the current tax rates). If the Assemblywoman thinks there’s a way to move forward with an “all-cuts” budget that doesn’t decimate our schools and life-saving services, then we’re sure the people of California would love to see it.   

We invite Assemblywoman Conway to try out some of the widely available online budget balancing tools below and look forward to hearing any helpful ideas she may have.

LA Times Budget Tool
Sacramento Bee Budget Tool
Next 10 Budget Tool


Nancy Berlin is Executive Director of California Partnership, a statewide coalition of community-based groups, organizing and advocating for the programs and policies that reduce and end poverty.  

Anthony Wright is Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition advocating for quality, affordable health care for all Californians.