Opinion: Government: Charting the vetoed budget “solutions”


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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the two main budget bills that Sacramento Democrats approved Wednesday, saying they would add billions of dollars in debt. The package ‘also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings,’ Brown said.

Two of the biggest ‘legally questionable maneuvers,’ though, were Brown’s ideas: taking $1 billion from First Five early childhood development programs and $1.7 billion from local redevelopment agencies. In fairness, Brown had proposed simply to eliminate redevelopment agencies -- a move that, although legally questionable, wasn’t as exotic as the legislature’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies that don’t agree to kick a portion of their revenues back to the state.


First Five agencies have already sued, and on Thursday the mayors of the state’s 10 largest cities threw down the gauntlet over redevelopment agencies. Said the mayors: ‘Their so-called remedy for the State’s deficit is an illegal and indefensible shakedown of our cities.... Despite Sacramento’s failure, we will continue to fight to save quality job training, urban revitalization, job opportunities, and affordable housing for residents across California.”

The First Five and redevelopment grabs are hardly the only gimmicky elements of the vetoed budget package. Here’s a chart breaking down about $12 billion worth of ‘solutions’ in the package into three categories: real spending cuts and revenue increases, speculative revenue increases and transfers, and kick-the-can-down-the-road deferrals and borrowing:

The real cuts and fees column, which totals $2.2 billion, includes nearly $1 billion in fees, a little more than $800 million in projected revenue not previously anticipated and $450 million in cuts to the UC system and the courts. The speculative revenue column, which totals $4.5 billion, includes $1.1 billion from sales-tax initiatives that are likely to be challenged in court and $700 million in federal Medicaid reimbursements that may not materialize, in addition to the funds grabbed from First Five and redevelopment agencies. The kick-the-can column, which totals $5.4 billion, includes almost $3.4 billion in deferred payments to schools and universities, $1.2 billion raised by temporarily selling state buildings (a technique that amounts to a loan with a high interest rate) and $744 million in delayed repayments of money previously borrowed from school budgets.


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-- Jon Healey