Local lawmakers stake out positions on Gov. Brown's budget cuts

Local lawmakers expressed frustrationthis week that Gov. Jerry Brown ordered $1 billion in mid-year cuts, pointing to the move as proof of the inability of Democratic and Republican legislators to work together.

Among the cuts triggered by lower-than-expected revenues were elimination of funding for free school-bus service, a reduction of $100 million each to the University of California and California State University systems and cuts in services for the developmentally disabled.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said the cuts were wrong from the beginning.

“The trigger cuts were a bad idea when they were proposed in June and continue to underscore the inability of the legislature to have its priorities straight,” Portantino said in a statement. “Hurting school children, college students and those most in need without so much as a public vetting of the bills that resulted in this situation was bad public policy and misguided.”

But the situation is not as bad as it could have been, said Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge).

“The trigger cuts could have been worse, and the state has avoided more serious reductions in funding for K-12 education,” Liu said in a statement. “But the governor still had to reduce funding for higher education, services for the disabled and in-home health care for the needy — important programs that have already been cut back.”

Looking toward the future, Liu said lawmakers need to find long-term solutions.

She supports structural reforms and long-term changes that will protect funding for schools, public safety and other “vital services,” she added.

“The budget might be stable for now, but the overall system remains broken,” Liu said.

Brown hopes to persuade voters to approve a $6.8-billion tax hike in November.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) said he saw the enactment of the trigger cuts coming a long time ago.

“I had predicted that these trigger cuts would unfortunately come to fruition,” Gatto said in his own written statement. “It is tragic that the citizens of this state are paying the price for years of fiscal mismanagement in Sacramento.”

He added that he would continue to fight to reform the state political system, including by trying to reduce “ballot-box” budgeting, improving California’s antiquated tax code and fighting for a so-called rainy day fund.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Twiiter: @LAMarkKellam

Photo: Sen. Carol Liu addresses constituents in Burbank. Credit: Times Community News

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