Archive for the ‘California Budget Crisis’ Category

California Cutting UC Budget, Raising Prison Budget

Today I met a bunch of UC students who explained why they were against yet another $1.4 billion in proposed cuts to the UC system. As one student explained it, the prison budget is being increased even while higher education is chopped, potentially resulting in another round of tuition increases and possible enrollment restrictions. “It costs UC about $15,000 per student for a UC education,” she said, “but it costs about $45,000 to house one youth inmate in prison.”

prison imageI couldn’t believe Gov. Brown had proposed an increase in anything this year, much less for prisons (and prison guards, who have a powerful union lobby). So I checked, and sure enough, his proposed budget asks for an additional $395.2 million.

What if those numbers were reversed? What if we invested $45,000 a year in our state’s children, per child, every year, through college? It would be a different world, a better world. Imagine.

imagine mosaic

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UCLA Forecasts More Pain for California

The Anderson Forecast, a pricey report available to members only – and the press – forecast a slow recovery for California that won’t begin for another year or more. It predicts as many as 60,000 government-wide job losses, and an unemployment rate as high as 12.1 percent before the turnaround begins.

The government job losses will come through attrition as well as layoffs, and includes education as well as state and local government. But 60,000 government jobs amount to 13.9 percent of the estimated 430,000 in California – a big hit.

Sacramento Bee coverage mentions the job losses. The Los Angeles Times highlights unemployment and the building slowdown.

While the national economy is showing signs of life – a slower rate of job losses and a slight uptick in consumer spending – California’s unemployment rate of 11 percent remains 2 percent higher than the U.S. rate of 9+ percent.

The Sacramento Bee quotes UCLA  senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg: “The non-governmental part of California is kind of working its way through [the recession]. The governmental part is still a mess.”

Since the “governmental part” ripples through so many parts of the state’s economy, the “mess” will cause a drag on California’s recovery.

We had a higher high during the boom, so I guess it makes sense that we’re having a lower low.

On the other hand, we wouldn’t have to make such draconian cuts if we were raising revenue – yes, tax increases – were on the table. Prop. 13 is an overripe target. More on that later.

Meanwhile, fasten your seat belts.

NY Times: Bail Out California – with Reforms

On May 22, NY Times Op-Ed contributor Joe Mathews, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, not only asks if California is “too big to fail,” he makes a strong case for a federal bailout – with reform-strings attached.

Golden State Bailout

Six-minute Video Explains How We Got Here

And what a mess it is.

The video is courtesy of the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, Noreen Evans (Napa + parts of Sonoma and Solano counties):

Noreen Evans’ site:

http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a07/BudgetReform/default.aspx

It’s also on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogfNEw2XSbY

Reforms, anyone?

LA Times: Interactive Budget Balancer

Try your hand at closing California’s $24,000,000,000 budget gap, using the Los Angeles Times’ Interactive Budget Balancer. It lets you see how the cuts will affect life in California, and how much it would save. The gap is so huge that even if you closed all 110 community colleges – shutting out 2.6 million students – you’d still have 80 percent to go.

So, fellow citizens, your first challenge is to close it without raising revenues through some form of higher taxes and/or fees – as demanded by legislative Republicans and many voters too.

Your second challenge is to be able to honestly say, after looking over all the dismal choices, that you don’t know a single soul who would not be affected by at least one of them.

Happy balancing!