HolyCoast: Gov. Moonbeam Realizes California Has to Cut Benefits. The Democrats...Not So Much

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Gov. Moonbeam Realizes California Has to Cut Benefits. The Democrats...Not So Much

Dan Walters says the big challenge facing Gov. Jerry Brown with California's budget is not the Republicans demanding further cuts, but Democrats who refuse to accept the reality that the state can no longer afford the generous benefits of the past:
Last week, Controller John Chiang revealed that revenue is falling $2.6 billion short while spending is running $2.6 billion over budget. It means that this supposedly balanced budget will be somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion in the red by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

It's about half of the $9.2 billion deficit that Brown says his new budget will cover – but only if voters agree to temporary increases in sales and income taxes next fall.

But there's more to the budget equation than taxes.

Even were the new taxes approved, Brown's new budget would continue the rapid shrinkage of health and welfare services to the poor that he first proposed last year. And Democrats are beginning to balk.

They've stiffed Brown on the mid-year cuts he seeks to shrink the year-end deficit, and the initial legislative responses to the budget are highly critical of "safety net" reductions. The Assembly staged one hearing last week to focus on their effects on poor women.

The pushback may reflect a realization that Brown doesn't see shrinking health and welfare services, including a much tighter limit for welfare payments, as a temporary response to budget woes, but rather, as he said a year ago, "a retrenchment" of the state's historically generous benefits.

"They (the cuts) look permanent to me," he told reporters in January 2011. "The money isn't there."

A year later, his intent is sinking in, and one of his most difficult chores will be to persuade a Legislature dominated by liberal Democrats to do to social services what conservative Republicans have only dreamed of doing.
Good luck with that, governor. It has to be done. For decades when things were going great in California the Dem legislatures, often aided by GOP governors, piled on benefit after benefit. The good days are over for the foreseeable future and things have to change.

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