The Republican Minority Won the California Budget Battle


Posted on 29 June 2011

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By Duane Campbell

The Republican minority won the California budget battle.

California is a Democratic controlled state; in the Senate there are 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans, in the Assembly there are 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans, the Governor and most state offices are Democrats.

In spite of these majorities, the Republicans won the budget battle of 2011.  They got a cut in the sales tax by 1 %, and a cut in the vehicle license fee.  The result will be further cuts in the Univ. of California, further cuts in the California State University system, and further cuts (called deferrals) in the K-12 schools.

California is presently 47th. out of the 50 states in per pupil expenditures, we are among the very poor in funding our schools.  In prior years, as described by the California Budget project, “Lawmakers cut the overall annual funding level for K-12 public schools by $6.3 billion, from $50.3 billion in 2007-08 to $44.1 billion in 2009-10.3 Lawmakers cut schools’ general purpose dollars as well as funds earmarked for specific school programs, often referred to as categoricals.”

What remains?  The proposed budget uses overly generous estimates of future tax incomes.  If the projections fall short, there will be mandated further cuts to the universities and to k-12 education.

By imposing this mostly cuts budgets, the economic crisis flows down to produce cuts in police, fire protection and local budgets.

The Democratic leadership will not admit the truth.  They lost.  Jerry Brown claimed he could negotiate with reasonable Republicans.  He failed.

To be certain, the school budget crisis was not caused by the Democrats.   Finance capital collapse and theft in housing and on Wall Street produced this crisis, not police officers, firemen, nurses, librarians and teachers.  The recession took sales taxes and property taxes which normally fund safety and public services.  Now Wall Street has recovered, but the states and the cities and counties are left with the destruction.

 The radical, anti tax groups who control the Republican Party stop us from passing a budget and starting toward recovery.  The Republican budget plan is to cut taxes and thus force cuts in schools, police, fire, and public safety.  They have won.

What do you want?  I want a city without gangs, with police and firemen on the streets, with a probation department to divert young people from prison, with parks and libraries open.  This could be achieved by passing a reasonable state budget and a local increase in sales taxes.  We need to pay taxes for the services we need.

These cuts are not necessary.  The legislature passed horrendous budget cuts in the spring, and they are about to vote on even more cuts. The Spring 2011 cut funds for students, for the disabled, for the ill, the unemployed- all to protect the rich.  There are funds for the needed services, but the rich and the powerful do not pay their taxes.

Here is a list of available revenue sources.

The right wing is playing its usual role:  Race-bait and attack immigrants and the poor to justify cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations.  Block legislation so that people come to expect nothing from their government except pain. Demand arrests of the undocumented and new fences at the border. Shift the economic crisis to the states to cut health services for women who can't otherwise afford care and to families who can’t afford to feed their own children.  Blame teachers and unions for failures in education caused by childhood poverty. Ignore the foreclosure crisis and the jobs crisis.

The right wing viewpoint has won another victory in the California budget crisis- even though Democrats control the legislature.  It is long past time for the various progressive forces in the U.S. , each of which is being crushed by casino capitalism, to work together to defend democracy. This requires unions, teachers, academics, Democratic Party activists and others to recognize that what they have in common is the need for a powerful united front to defend against the right wing onslaughts.

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Duane Campbell is a Professor (emeritus) of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at CSU-Sacramento and the Chair of  the Sacramento local of Democratic Socialists of America.

Even though Democrats hold the majority of seats, don't forget that the Republicans also represent many people. The majority of voters--even many Democrats-- don't want higher taxes. Education and all the other "big ticket" programs have shown no backbone to make cuts. They just cry that they have "cut to the bone."

Actually ALL polls show big majorities, both in state, and nationwide, for raising taxes on the super rich and corporations as an alternative to cutting core programs that made our country what it is...

These numbers even go higher when you ask voters whether they prefer a tax increase on people making over $500,000 a year or deep cuts to education, health care, or public safety. IN fact, those in California that do make over $500,000 just got a $14 billion tax CUT thanks to extending Bush's budget busting tax cuts.

In light of the fact that our current budget deficits were caused by wall street gambling and fraud, wars and of course, tax cuts for the rich, and corporate tax evasion, these majority opinions are all the more legitimate.

So yeah, 99% of Californians that did nothing to cause the deficit don't want big tax hikes on them, nor is anyone advocating that, nor do they deserve it. The question is should Wall St., the super rich, and big oil pay a TINY bit more instead of deep, economy killing cuts to programs that benefit the masses? Its about priorities and fairness...not a phony "do you want your taxes increased or not" straw men arguments...

As for polling...here's some actual data:

According to a recent Boston Globe poll of likely voters in New Hampshire, perhaps the most anti-tax state in this country, 73% support raising taxes on people making over $250,000 a year; 78% oppose cutting Medicare; 71% oppose cutting Medicaid; and 76% oppose cutting Social Security.

In fact, national poll after national poll have almost mirrored what New Hampshire voters are saying.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found the following:

* 81 percent of the American people believe it is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to impose a surtax on millionaires to reduce the deficit.
* 74 percent of the American people believe it is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to eliminate tax credits for the oil and gas industry.
* 68 percent of the American people believe it is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to phase out the Bush tax cuts for families earning over $250,000 a year.
* 76 percent of the American people believe it is totally acceptable or mostly acceptable to eliminate funding for weapons systems the Defense Department says are not necessary.
* 76 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut Medicare to significantly reduce the budget deficit.
* 77 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut Social Security to significantly reduce the deficit.
* 67 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut Medicaid to significantly reduce the deficit.
* 77 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut funding for K-12 education to significantly reduce the deficit.
* 56 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut Head Start.
* 59 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut college student loans.
* And, 65 percent believe it is totally unacceptable or mostly unacceptable to cut heating assistance to low income families.

IN fact, EVEN THE TEA PARTY, when polled, by an astonishing 70%, oppose cutting Medicare and Medicaid to reduce the deficit, according to a recent McClatchy Poll.

Another poll by the Washington Post and ABC News indicates the following:

72% of Americans support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 to reduce the national debt – including 91% of Democrats; 68% of Independents; and 54% of Republicans.

Drinking corporate, Ayn Rand koolaid to justify support for life destroying cuts to programs that strengthen our economy and benefit the public in favor of tax cuts for corporate criminals and the rich...as well as a bloated military and illegal wars is both factually and rationally a joke, but immoral as well.

For those that want actual, hard data on the revenue that could be generated here in California through the shared sacrifice agenda alluded to in this article and overwhelmingly supported by the public, go to where the author suggested...

http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2011/01/california-budget-crisis-s...

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