Assembly Republicans Highlight Worst Features of Democrat Majority Vote Budget

Posted: June 26, 2012 in California Budget, California Politics
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From the California State Assembly Republican Caucus:

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Republicans today sharply criticized the emerging details of the so-called budget trailer bills that the Legislature will take up on Wednesday, calling it a backroom deal that will target schools and hurt public safety, while growing welfare spending, rejecting reform and playing politics with the initiative process.

“It has been very disappointing to see a budget plan that will significantly impact the lives of every Californian, yet which was crafted behind closed doors by the majority party leadership, silencing the voice of the people along the way,” said Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber).  “Now that details are finally starting to emerge, at the 11th hour, Californians should be deeply concerned about a budget that will expand a dangerous public safety realignment scheme, will roll back decades of welfare reform and will hurt our schools. This budget with its deluge gimmick-filled trailer bills is no solution to California budget problems. It’s just more of the same.”

Assembly Republicans highlighted the following significant flaws with the two dozen measures that the Legislature is expected to take up Wednesday, which ironically is the deadline for the Governor to sign or veto the main budget bill:

  • Targets education but spares health and welfare programs:  Democrats are poised to adopt the full $5.9 billion of the Governor’s proposed education cuts.  Education is targeted for 99 percent of the trigger cuts.
  • Makes few permanent spending reductions:  The Democrat budget includes just $1.2 billion in permanent spending reductions, relying instead on fund shifts, delayed payments, one-time solutions and other ploys.
  • No reform:  The Democrat budget includes no reforms to stimulate private sector job creation, no reforms to force government to limit annual spending and no reforms to address the state’s unfunded pension obligations.
  • Undermines welfare-to-work:  Governor Brown originally proposed stronger welfare-to-work requirements by mandating recipients take job training classes in order to continue receiving aid.  Democrats, instead, held up this proposal while fighting to water down reforms that will encourage people to get off aid and get back to work.  In the end, the Democrat proposal will not affect recipient eligibility until 2014, while exempting welfare recipients from work requirements this year.
  • Protects public employee unions:  The Democrat budget prevents the University of California from contracting out with private firms for savings and rejects Governor Brown’s pension reform plan.
  • Transfers Healthy Families to Medi-Cal at higher cost:  The Democrat budget eliminates the cost-effective Healthy Families program by moving 880,000 children to Medi-Cal.  Healthy Families costs just $50 per client to administer and is overseen by just 600 private sector workers.  Medi-Cal employs 27,000 government workers and costs $395 per recipient to administer.  The state will save $13 million by eliminating Healthy Families, but may lose $183 million in managed care revenue.
  • $8.5 Billion Tax Increase Would Hurt Small Businesses:  The Democrat budget relies on voter approval of an $8.5 billion tax increase that is far from certain.  It would raise California’s highest Personal Income Tax rate by up to 30%, which if enacted would be 21% higher than the next nearest state, raising concerns about California’s ability to compete for high-paying jobs.  Two-thirds of businesses – more than 2.7 million small business owners – file their taxes under the personal income tax system, and could be affected by this tax hike.
  • Plays politics with the initiative process: Democrats propose to move the Governor’s tax initiative up to the top of the ballot, even though his initiative qualified tenth.  At the same time, the trigger cuts would still be pulled even if a competing tax measure passes.

GOP lawmakers pointed out that the main budget bill and six other measures were passed two weeks ago in a self-serving effort by the majority party to meet Proposition 25’s requirement for lawmakers to continue receiving their paychecks.  The remaining two dozen measures were crafted behind closed doors by the Governor and Democrat leaders.

“The more we let the sunshine in on the Democrat majority vote budget, the worse it looks for the priorities of California’s hard-working families,” said Assistant Republican Floor Leader Curt Hagman, of Chino Hills.  “Californians deserve better than a phony budget targeting schools for painful trigger cuts while growing welfare spending, results in the early release of more dangerous criminals and protects public employee unions from fair-shared sacrifice.”

Republicans sharply disagreed with reported plans to expand the Governor’s public safety realignment scheme, making it easier for dangerous felons to be let out of jail early.  Specifically, the new plan would reduce parolee accountability, end the practice of bail monitoring and make it easier for female inmates to be granted early release.  The plan also shortchanges the Central Valley to give more realignment dollars to the Bay Area.  Priority will now be given to counties that prioritize diversion, instead of on the cost to house inmates in county jails.

“There are many parts of the majority party’s budget plan that will hurt the Central Valley, but none more so than the plan to shortchange public safety realignment funding from the Valley so  they can give more money to the Bay Area,” said Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, of Tulare.  “The Central Valley has already seen the real world impact of realignment, with more innocent people becoming victims because dangerous criminals are no longer serving in state prison, and the Democrat plan will make the problems of public safety realignment even worse.”

To stay up to date with the latest in the California budget debate, visit the “California Budget Fact Check” website.

Contact: Sabrina Lockhart: (916) 319-2034


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