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Think it can't get worse for California? Stick around

May 15, 2012|By Paul Whitefield
  • Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised state budget plan at a news conference Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised state budget plan at a news conference… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

On Tuesday morning, The Times’ headline on its news story read: "Jerry Brown's plea to voters: 'Please increase taxes temporarily' "

On Tuesday afternoon, The Times’ readers answered: "Drop dead."

On Tuesday morning, The Times’ headline on its editorial read: "Brown's bloody budget."

On Tuesday afternoon, The Times’ readers answered: "So what?"

Well, no one said it was going to be easy.

Here’s what Brown is offering to cut, according to The Times’ story:

  • Cut the state workweek to 38 hours, worked over four days, for a 5% cut in payroll costs;
  • Cut Medi-Cal, the state's healthcare program for the poor, by $1.2 billion, including cuts in funds for hospitals and nursing homes;
  • Cut home care for the elderly and the disabled by $225 million;
  • Proposed cuts of $1.3 billion in welfare and child care.

And that’s the bad. The ugly is what happens if voters turn down the governor’s proposed tax hikes. Without that, he’s prepared to cut even deeper, including the equivalent of lopping three weeks off the school year.

And do the commenters say,  "Wow, Governor, good job"? Or even, "Oh no, we can’t let that happen."

Uh, hardly.  No, they say it’s easy to solve California’s problems. You just:

  • Cut the size of government by laying off public workers;
  • Cut state employees’ pensions;
  • Cut payments to illegal immigrants;
  • Cut regulations and taxes that are killing and/or driving businesses out of state.
  • Cut all the Democrats in office.

So, Brown wants to eviscerate the state’s safety net and cut services even further, and in exchange he’d like a small, temporary boost in taxes. In return, the thoughtful folks on our comment board launch broadsides at their favorite whipping boys: state workers, illegals, liberals, the governor, the Legislature and Democrats.

It’s like watching Fox News, local edition: Never have so few Democrats done so much damage to one state.

But here’s what I’m taking from all this: Brown won’t get his tax hike.

Instead, the state will do what it’s done for years: muddle through until the economy turns around.

And how will it muddle through? By balancing the budget on the backs of the less fortunate. By cutting state services, making this a less functional state. By forgoing needed projects. By spending less and less on education -- also known as its future.

It’ll work out. 

It’s just that the Golden State will be tarnished: It’ll be meaner, and dumber, and less pleasant to live in.

And all for want of a few measly tax dollars.

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