ProComKelly/FlickrState Sen. Mark Leno requested a report on what would be a nightmare budget scenario for state Democrats.
Classrooms packed with more students. Fee increases as much as 10 percent at public colleges. Fewer police on the street. Deep cuts to social services for the elderly and disabled. Banning children younger than 5 from kindergarten. Cutting state worker pay.
That's the Doomsday scenario for Democrats outlined in a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released yesterday: a state budget relying only on cuts and student fee increases, not taxes, to plug the $26.6 billion budget shortfall.
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, requested the report to show the kind of drastic action that would be needed if state Republicans and voters did not warm to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend tax and fee increases in combination with budget cuts.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Leno said in a statement. “In January, the governor’s budget proposal clarified that $5.9 billion in public safety expenditures and $5 billion in K-12 education expenditures were at risk without the extension of today’s tax rates. The LAO’s numbers are quite similar.”
The report suggests cuts that reach nearly every aspect of public life, including ending class size reduction in public schools and suspending Proposition 98, which guarantees a minimum level of education funding. Public universities and community colleges would face additional cuts, along with health care services, public safety, transportation spending and funding for local governments.
The report provides ammunition for Democrats who argue that balancing the budget with cuts alone would have major consequences for state programs and would cause hardship for many Californians.
The Legislative Analyst outlined about $13.5 billion in cuts and some revenue generators - college tuition hikes, more automated red-light cameras, and allowing oil drilling at Tranquillon Ridge off the coast of Santa Barbara – beyond what Brown has already proposed.
The office stressed they were simply presenting hypothetical options, not making recommendations.
“We have had to go far beyond our comfort level in order to meet the requested solutions target,” the report said. “Some of the listed actions would have serious impacts on individuals, programs, and local governments.”
A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Jan. 26 found that most Californians supported the governor’s budget proposal to hold a special election in June to ask voters to extend tax and fee increases. Among likely voters, 66 percent agreed with Brown’s plan, including a majority of Republicans.
Most voters said that they supported raising corporate taxes, rather than personal income taxes, to fix the deficit.