Today, Governor Jerry Brown released the details of his new budget proposal. Now that property taxes and income taxes have been paid, the state looked at its revenue. California brought in $6.6 billion more than what the initial budget had expected. So this means, instead of having a budget deficit of $26.6 billion, the new estimate is now around $20 billion
The Governor is presenting the revised budget as a major victory for Californians and a sign that every thing is going to get better soon. In reality, this extra revenue will slightly reduce the attack on education, but it’s more like being told by a doctor that they have good news: you will only have to lose one whole arm instead of two – to call it an improvement is kind of pathetic.
What has remained the same in this revision is the overall strategy of balancing the budget. The $20 billion shortfall is still accounted for by a combination of huge cuts to social services and a variety of tax increases and fees on working people. For example, even with the extra revenue, overall spending for education remain the lowest it has ever been in 38 years. The revision completely maintains the billions of dollars that have already been cut from education, home health, poor children, public workers, transportation, state parks and more.
In reality, there is nothing about this revision that is a solution to the attacks on working people across California. Both Democrats and Republicans continue to protect the super-rich and those banks and corporations based in California by trying to sell us the lie that the state is broke. Really? 2010 was the most profitable year for corporations in US history, totaling $1.7 trillion dollars in profits. Chevron, based in Richmond, made more than $19 billion in profits last year. Apple, based in Cupertino, made more than $14 billion in profits. And Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, made more than $11 billion. So, why do they tell us the state is broke?
The state might have a deficit, but this is simply because both the Democrats and the Republicans choose to attack us and not tax the rich and corporations. In 2009, the state legislature passed tax breaks that hand over more than eight billion dollars to corporations over the next eight years. And if the ten largest corporations in California were taxed ten percent, the state would bring in an extra $9 billion a year. But we don’t hear anything about these types of solutions to the budget crisis.
When the politicians talk about taxes, the only thing they talk about is taxing us. Rather than tax the rich, Brown and other Democrats want us to support extending higher taxes on ourselves for another five years! That was Brown’s original plan for closing part of the deficit. But why should people who are being thrown out of their jobs because of this economic crisis agree to pay more sales tax? Why should people with jobs pay more income tax when they are already having a hard enough time paying the increased cost of food, gas, and other basic necessities?
Although they don’t ever talk about taxing the rich, this is actually what most people in California support as a solution to the state’s budget problem. A recent poll found that 62 percent of Californians say that they support raising taxes on the highest income brackets in order to protect schools from budget cuts. So, who do these politicians really represent? The answer is clear.
Brown and other politicians keep telling us that the state’s budget problems are going to continue for the foreseeable future. They are telling us we are going to have a budget deficit next year. And then the year after that. And then the year after that. And what will their solutions be each time? To cut even deeper and to sing us the same lie year after year that there isn’t any other option. But there is another option. The money exists to stop all of these cuts and fully pay for our needs. We can choose not to submit to these attacks and begin to wage a real fightback.