Despite $16B Deficit, California Making 'Real Progress,' Brown Says

Gov. Brown expects to cut child care, health care and Medi-Cal

By Gene Cubbison
|  Monday, May 14, 2012  |  Updated 9:07 PM PDT
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With education representing 40 percent of the state's budget, the governor said he couldn't spare school districts from further cuts.  Gene Cubbison spoke to Lora Duzyk with the San Diego County Office of Education about the priorities the governor shoul

With education representing 40 percent of the state's budget, the governor said he couldn't spare school districts from further cuts. Gene Cubbison spoke to Lora Duzyk with the San Diego County Office of Education about the priorities the governor shoul

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Despite Deficit Brown Says Budget is Progress

Governor Brown released a new state budget that shows a deficit nearly twice as large as predicted a few months ago. Gene Cubbison spoke to taxpayers about the deficit and the plan to reduce it.

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Governor Brown released a new state budget that shows a deficit nearly twice as large as predicted a few months ago.

He warned he'll make deeper cuts to education and public safety, unless voters pass tax hike measures in November.

Back in January, the budget shortfall was projected to be around $9-billion.

However because of lower than expected tax revenues, and obstacles to some of the governor's original cuts, it's $16-billion.

He emphasized that you can't spend what you don't have.

"I'm laying out some pretty tough cuts," he said. "Ask the legislators. They've already made some pretty tough cuts, just from their point of view. And from the point of view of a lot of people."

This tough love comes after years of deficits, not just in the time since he was elected, he said.

"I said at the beginning when I ran for this job that it's been a long time -- more than decade -- to get into this mess," Brown said. "We're not going to get out of it in a year. Or even two years. But we're getting there; we're making real progress."

Right now, that's small consolation to teachers who have been issued pink slips and students whose class sizes are growing. With education representing 40 percent of the state's budget, the governor said he couldn't spare school districts from further cuts -- in this revised budget, another 15 percent.

Class sizes at so many schools are maxed out, legally, that measures are available in the new budget to trim up to15 more days from academic schedules.

"Looking at reducing the school year -- which is like salary rollbacks, giving the teachers the time off, too -- might be the only thing left for a lot of school districts,"  said Lora Duzyk with the San Diego County Office of Education.

He also targets state funding for local law enforcement programs, a 5 percent rollback in employee wages, cuts in health care, child care and Medi-Cal.

And out on the streets, local law enforcement will see a drop in the already modest state funds they're getting to help cope with the controversial prison realignment program, which is downsizing inmate populations. The governor says he's committed to "trying" to maintain "core services" in public safety agencies.

To ease some of the pain, he's urging support for his temporary tax initiative that would raise income taxes on people who earn $250,000 a year, and raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent.

Early voter sentiment is a mixed bag.

"The less you put into our education, the less valuable it is for those who are being educated," said San Diego teacher Cassondra Gutierrez.

However some say Brown's tax proposal is a step in the wrong direction.

"We need to get back to a grass roots effort to fix our education system," said San Diego resident Tanissha Harrell. "And I don't think it's taxing upon taxing upon tax. Because it hasn't proved fruitful."

If the shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1 really does pan out as $16-billion, the governor's initiative alone would not close the gap. It provides for $8-billion. He's also proposing a variety of other solutions, worth $2.5-billion.

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