A Brown stain on California’s budget

Heric Rubio

On Nov. 2, the people of California once again voted for Jerry Brown to be governor of their state.

Brown already served a previous term as governor from 1975 unto ’83, so voters must have felt that this experience would assure that he would be the best choice. But Brown’s first term was so long ago that many voters probably have no idea what went down his first time around.

When Brown entered office in 1975, the taxes per $100 of personal income was $7.03. For the next six years, those taxes rose to a high of $7.92. In the last two years of his term, though, they dropped down to a low of $6.83.

So why couldn’t Brown get to those numbers at the beginning of his term? If he was able to take taxes from $7.25 to $6.98 in one year, why were the previous six years so much higher?

An even more perplexing question is how did these taxes rise when Brown’s Proposition 13 was voted in on June 6, 1978.

According to rochester.indymedia.com, Prop. 13 reduced property tax rates on homes, businesses, and farms by about 57%. These huge tax cuts cut into the money that was available to statewide agencies such as police departments and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

If Caltrans had that tax money, the highway that collapsed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake could have been upgraded to withstand such a natural disaster. Statewide, police and fire departments could have afforded better equipment and possibly more personnel, allowing who knows how many crimes to be stopped.

So let’s fast forward to 2010. Once again Brown is in office. What does this mean for the people of California this time around?
Brown and the state legislature are, in the words of the Legislative Analyst’s Office, faced with a “$25 billion budget problem (that) needs to be addressed in coming months.” And how is he going to fix this problem?

With more cuts obviously.

Brown plans on cutting down staff in his own office and is requiring that all other state departments and agencies do the same. Oh, and he’s also not taking an office. He’ll be operating out of his campaign offices in Oakland.

These aren’t the steps needed. With a budget deficit of $25 billion, drastic measures must be taken. Brown and the citizens of California must realize that in order to make money, you have to spend money. And the fact is that some of the money has to come from taxes.

We are currently in the calm before the storm. Whether we emerge from the storm broken or stronger depends on the decisions Brown makes as a governor and on what he feels is more important: that the citizens of his state like him, or that he digs them out of the massive hole that they are in.