Reportedly, Governor Jerry Brown will propose a budget today that includes severe spending cuts and a proposal to extend temporary tax increases. But the trade off of spending cuts for tax increases is not enough. Restructuring the way we operate government should be part of the package.
As of this writing, I don’t know how long a period Brown wants the taxes extended. Another two years? More? Or is the idea to make them permanent? However, the life expectancy of the spending cuts could be very short. Proposition 25 passed by voters in November allows a majority vote to pass the budget. That means, once the tax increases are in place, for whatever length of time, the spending side of the budget can be altered by a majority vote by the Democrats next year.
Democrats are not happy with the budget cuts and could and probably would alter them as soon as possible.
Republican legislators will balk at such a scenario and won’t accept a deal of tax extension for deep spending cuts.
Is there a chance Republicans could support putting tax extensions before the voters? Perhaps, but only if solid, constitutional taxpayer reforms are also part of the package. For example, the chance of Republicans agreeing to a tax competent could be greater if a strong spending limit were part of the package.
Now is the time to achieve long-term fixes for California’s constant budget problems. We should not lose the opportunity.
UPDATE: Governor Brown proposes that tax extensions run for five years. He hopes that the economy will come back in that period so revenue will be there to cover the program realignment of state and local government he is proposing. Voters rejected extending the temporary taxes in May 2009. Asked about that, Brown answered that voters had rejected reappoirtionment a number of times before passing it. Voters could change their votes given the circumstances, he said. Brown said it was up to him, the legislature, the business community and parent teacher groups among others to convince the voters.