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

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.

Comments () | Archives (41)

Tax increases?? We are already one of the most heavily taxed states in the union. How about cutting state employees (and their pensions), bringing welfare payments in line w/other states (today we are among the highest in pay-outs) and slashing the cost to house prisoners in state prisons. We currently spend nearly double what most other states currently spend.


More taxes is not the answer, just keep cutting until the budget is clear. Clearly wages have not increased, and any increase in taxes will not be voted on.

So Jerry is going to hold California's kids hostage! A new low, even for Jerry, the "bottom feeder".

What we need to cut first, is all non-constitionally mandated benefits to people here illegally. Unless that is done, you can bet that California voters will not approve any tax extension or increase.

Unfortunately, I predicted that Brown would do this...make bleak projections so that he can justify raising taxes! But for 5 years? How can we trust ANY Politician with our money? We are one of the HIGHEST taxed states in the nation with LITTLE to show for it. Crumbling roads, corrupt politicians, staggering unemployment, the lions share of illegal aliens and welfare recipients!
Let's see how many business FLEE California in 2011! Thank you Jerry Brown and thank you California Legislature for KILLING California!!!!

So where in the "The Times' budget application" do you get to cut pensions?

Where is the lever for 50% pension reduction for new govt. hires, no more retiring and coming back to work for the state, and an immediate 15% reduction in all state workers salaries?

I always hear politicians threatening to cut "services" if they cannot raise more tax revenue. They could keep many services if they cut the COST of services (ie. lower salaries and helth and pension benefits). I also agree with the elimination of any costs or services associated with illegal aliens.

Brown won't solve the long term problem until he tackles the issue with the bloated public unions pension and over paid issue. Until then, it's just pulling lipstick on a pig. Tying the tax increase, yes it's an increase, to public school spending is a scare tactic and an insult to the public. He is in for a rude awakening if he thinks that will work, the public has already turned on the teachers.

This isn't a tough choice cut government pensions. Cut government pay. Cut the free rides for illegals. Cut the free rides for people who have been milking the system for years prior to the burst.

And Jug-head Jerry wants to give Illegal alien kids free college education on out dollars??????

No one is going to vote for higher taxes... certainly not a high enough percentage to pass a tax increase.

It's time to face facts. There is no more money to be confiscated by Sac-to. It's time to make real, deep cuts.

Will it hurt? Probably.

Most Californians have had to make cuts, deep cuts. It's called reality.

Too many people on the take and not enough taxpayers........Need to cut more entitlements, and pensions.........I will be voting no for more taxes!

Thank God, someone is finally acting in a responsible manner. Half cuts and half revenue increases would represent the largest group of California citizens desires, according to the voting public. Its a truly bipartisan compromise that will help California. Thank you

Where does the article say cut pensions? Seems like all the reductions are going to be on the back of the truly needy.

Why don't the recipient's of generous state pension benefits make the concessions to close the gap?

Taxpayers are taxed max. Needy will be reduced. What about the pensioners? Where is there contribution to all of this deficit spending?

I agree with the other posters who say we should cut benefits paid to illegal aliens. I unfortunately have had to get help. When I go to the county hospital or food stamp office - almost everybody there - at least 90% are illegal aliens. The majority of the illegals are from south of the border. I listen to their conversations (I am 100% fluent in Spanish and English- and my appearance is anglo) and many of them comment about being here without papers - but getting benefits. These people have never paid into the "system" and are here illegally!!! Why should they be getting food and health benefits? Many of them even have Section 8 housing. I'd like to know how they managed that!! They also work "under the table"!!

This is outrageous!!!!

The only people Brown is helping are the affluent people who will not feel any pain nor go hungry and not have indecent housing over their heads. These are the same people who use the services the illegal immigrants do at 1/3 or 1/2 of what it should be paid. Well no comment. I am certain that many people out there know the whole circle of what goes on!!

How come not one politician will ever speak up about the illegal immigrants getting free services. Just the money saved by cleaning up the garbage they leave on the street would probably be millions.

There is skewing in the options to take action in. NO way to deal with the lavish government sector pensions,teacher accountability (students' quality of education first before tenure!), and reasonable contemporary wages/benefits. You might argue it is not significant. For those and their predecessors whose dereliction leaves me holding the bag and the responsibilities today, the gesture is poignantly significant, TO ME!!

1. State employee salaries and benefits are too high and need to be reduced.
2. Education has too many non-essential postions and needs to be more efficient. State colleges are ridiculously wasteful.
3. Welfare benefits need to be reduced and eligibilty tightened.
4. State bureaucracy is overlapping and the number of agencies should be reduced.
5. Red tape to open and expand business must be minimized.
6. Taxes should be reduced to 1980 levels to provide jobs so the former welfare recipients can have a job.

With the state billions in the red why is it an illegal alien can still walk into a county hospital and give birth to an instant american citizen, with all the rights and privilages, and then walk out of the hospital without being deported?

Lets cut government waist and lazy workers

We balance our budgets without going to boss and demanding a raise, how about the government doing the same, reducing or cutting government jobs should always come before reducing services

They can cut all the services they want. We are paying the tab for the illegals who are living it up in this country compared to their own. I have taken the responsibility of educating my kids out of my own pocket, especially since these young adults are coming out of high school and can't even read or write to some degree. Let everyone have to deal with their own situations. The state provides us with nothing. The politicians still make their money, have all the benefits and pension so they are in no hurry to solve the issues. This country is becoming as corrupt and socialistic as others.

The great deal with Governor Brown, is that if he meat cleaves deeply rooted entrenched centralized excesses because he has nothing to lose (a no-next-term governor), OKAY! If he instead ends up rocketting California into bankruptcy, then the excesses NECCESSARILY STOP FOR LACK OF MONEY. Even if a court enforces law-mandated social entitlement spending, that sets a tremendous legilative incentive to repeal the financial mandates. This also works with the voter/taxpayers who WILL remove any representives that even appear to be thinking of playing the system to preserve progressive excess. Remember, redistricting starts next year. Gerrymandering has an appointed beginning for its' wholesale execution, thank God!
Our only jeopardy lies in Jerry breathing just enough life into the fiscal corpse to continue in agony half a decade more, while Sacramento addictively seeks debt to buy Utopia.
Had enough?

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