‘I’m Shocked’

Governor-elect Moonbeam is finding out that things are even worse than he thought:

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he wants to complete a budget agreement within two months of unveiling his budget, an accelerated timeline that would allow a late-spring special election for potential tax increases or other revenue generation.

… “We’ll present a budget on Jan. 10. It will be a very tough budget, but it will be transparent,” he said. “We’ll lay it out as best I can. We’ve been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I’m shocked.”

What does it take to shock Jerry Brown, I wonder?

The state faces a $28-billion budget gap for the next 18 months, and roughly $20-billion deficits annually through the 2015-16 fiscal year. Non-university education accounts for roughly 40% of state spending, so cuts tend to significantly affect the state schools.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has forecast that the K-12 school system and community colleges will receive $47.5 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, $9 billion less than four years earlier. In the past, state leaders relied on one-time gimmicks, some of which made the state’s deficit worse, and one-time cash infusions to patch over flawed spending plans. Those days are over, Brown said.

Brown says there are more cuts coming. “No there aren’t!” respond the unions:

Educators responded by calling for an end to cuts, asking for greater discretion at the local level as to how dwindling dollars are spent, urging the state to seek more federal funding and requesting legislation that would allow them to increase local property taxes with 55% of the vote rather than the current requirement of two-thirds.

The fact is that California could max out its tax rates and probably still not get out of the hole it is in — and a lot of states and municipalities are in the same condition. Which is why we need to push for action — action right now — on the Nunes-Ryan-Issa bill banning bailouts of state pension systems. That would be a good HR1 for the incoming Republican majority. The fiscal collapses in the states are an avalanche headed toward Capitol Hill, and is has to be headed out before the unthinkable becomes the inevitable.


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