Budget includes $9 bill. increase in taxes

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Budget includes $9 bill. increase in taxesThe California Legislature voted Monday, mostly along party lines, to adopt a budget package that relies in part on a $9 billion increase in taxpayer obligations to cover a projected $54 billion deficit.

Although the legislators met the constitutional deadline of passing a budget by June 15, at press time Democrats had not yet been successful in securing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support. Any eventual agreement may include substantial alterations to the plan.

California’s budget has doubled in the last decade, but in recent years state legislators and the governor have included provisions to set aside surplus revenues for a “rainy day” fund. However, even that account was inadequate for the unprecedented losses in revenue (and increased expenditures) that resulted from California’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom had asked President Trump and Congress for $14 billion in new federal money to bridge the gap. However, Newsom said that he did not anticipate that aid to be delivered, and directed state legislators to plan with the expectation that it would not arrive. Legislators appear to have rejected that approach, and instead proposed additional cuts in the fall if federal money does not come through.

State Senate and Assembly Republicans, including our local representatives, have been critical of their Democratic counterparts’ approach.

“The state is facing a government-induced recession with more than 4.8 million unemployed Californians,” said State Sen. Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield.

“Despite the economic crisis, the Democrats’ backroom budget deal has prioritized pet projects and includes a $9 billion tax increase on our job creators.”

She called the plan an “incomplete and poorly prioritized budget … the result of last-minute decisions that lacked transparency.”

Assemblyman Vince Fong of Bakersfield also criticized the “tone-deaf” plan.

“This is the worst possible time to burden businesses that are struggling to reopen and hire new workers. Making matters worse, Sacramento Democrats are rubbing salt into the wounds of California taxpayers by funding the mismanaged and costly High Speed Rail project even during a time of budget crisis.

“We should halt all new taxes and regulations in order to get back on track as quickly as possible for the millions of Californians who are struggling to find work.”

The governor’s May Revise that originally projected a 10-percent reduction in funds to education has been softened, somewhat, in the version passed this week in the state legislature.

However, until Newsom adopts — or redlines — the budget package, the final impacts remain unknown.

“We are awaiting some very important details regarding budget so that we can implement a plan that best serves students while maintaining fiscal solvency,” said Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent Dr. David Ostash.

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Pictured: Assemblyman Vince Fong

Story First Published: 2020-06-19