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Cut government services? Raise taxes? Tough choices for California's budget

January 10, 2011 |  9:39 am

Talk back L.A.Gov. Jerry Brown releases his state budget Monday. And it's expected to offer Californians a stark choice: Make major cuts in services -- including in welfare and education -- or boost taxes.

Or both.

The Times' Shane Goldmacher reports that the proposed budget offers few encouraging options:

To tame the state's chronic budget shortfalls, the Democratic governor will request cuts in a broad array of state programs and services, particularly those that lend a hand to the needy, according to those familiar with his plan.

He will call on lawmakers to sharply curb welfare spending by reducing eligibility and payouts and cutting the duration of benefits from five years to four. Under Brown's plan, Medi-Cal would let patients see the doctor less often and would require them to pay more when they do. Children in the state's Healthy Families insurance program would no longer receive vision coverage, and their families would pay more for medical care. The governor will also ask voters to approve an extension of 2009 tax hikes on their incomes, purchases and vehicles in a spring special election, insiders say, and he will tie the tax extension to protecting school funding.

Try your hand at eliminating the red ink in California's budget.

You can try to balance the state budget yourself with The Times' budget application. Education? Law enforcement? Welfare? What would you cut? Share your results of the budget balancer in the comments section. And keep up with the latest budget news at PolitiCal, The Times' California politics blog.