Gov. Jerry Brown's May budget revision leaves blood all over the Capitol walls. The era when California governors could make their cuts with a scalpel ended before Brown took office, so he does his trimming with a chain saw. The results are cuts in Medi-Cal payments to hospitals and nursing homes, cuts to those who care for the disabled, cuts to state courts and cuts in hours and pay for state employees. So far schools have been largely spared from this grisly exercise, but that will probably change in November if voters fail to approve a tax-hike initiative.
It's tough to endorse a budget proposal such as Brown's because it's so dishearteningly ugly. We had misgivings about his January version because of its severe trimming of the state's social welfare network, especially when it comes to caring for the elderly and disabled. Now the projected shortfall has nearly doubled to $16 billion from $9.2 billion, thanks to lower-than-expected tax revenue and other problems, and Brown's revised budget hits this population even harder. Construction on needed courthouses, meanwhile, will be stalled and a struggling court system will be even more underfunded. And although few Californians have much sympathy for state workers, they are struggling to fill the gaps in agencies that are experiencing layoffs and, if Brown gets his way, will be rewarded for their extra work with a 5% pay cut.