Jerry Brown's proposed budget cuts will be felt across California
The budget cuts proposed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown to deal with a swelling deficit will be felt across California, from courts and social services to the paychecks of state workers.
Brown's $91-billion budget proposal would cut health and welfare spending and reduce state payrolls by 5% to address the state’s deficit, which has grown to $16 billion from the $9.2 billion estimated in January.
“The proposed cuts to the judicial branch are both devastating and disheartening,” said California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. “They will seriously compromise the public’s access to their courts and our ability to provide equal access to justice throughout the state.”
Justice William R. McGuiness, administrative presiding justice of the San Francisco-based appeals court, said the judicial branch already was "at an extremely critical juncture."
"Our courts exist to protect the fundamental rights of all Californians," McGuiness said. "We cannot turn litigants away simply because money is scarce."
Jon Streeter, president of the State Bar of California, agreed.
"All courts are going to feel the pain, even those that have managed well so far," Streeter said.
Brown's revised budget reflects a steadily worsening fiscal picture for California. Service reductions are expected to be harsher if voters in November reject Brown's proposed combination of a sales-tax hike and increased levies on high earners. The governor presumes that $8.5 billion of the state's $16-billion deficit will be filled by his tax measure.
"For at least three years now, we've had furloughs, pay cuts," said Arturo Camarillo, 49, a deputy labor commissioner in downtown Los Angeles.
"And it was getting better. Last month, I think, was the first month we got back our furlough; we got 100% of our monthly income paid to us. But now we hear this news; it affects me, it affects my mortgage payment again.... It certainly makes us feel sad."
"There’s a dilemma right there," said Camarillo. "If he’s cutting our salaries and furlough, those taxes would help us."
Ying Wei, 51, an examiner for the state’s Department of Corporations, supports a tax increase but said she didn’t think salary cuts in previous years "saved that much money."
"I don’t mind paying a little more tax if it goes a long way," she said. “But the problems go back many, many years. We need to find better ways to save money; I don’t think cutting here and there will solve the problems.”
Jesse Cruz, 46, a finance consultant, said he was shocked when he heard the actual state deficit amount.
"It ties into a lot of the well-intentioned state programs that are not run efficiently," he said. "Medi-Cal, for example. If the governor’s trying to cut fat from the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, I would support that move. But if the cuts are at the sacrifice of seniors and lower-income people who need this aid, then this doesn’t make sense."
Others are waiting to see how the proposals play out.
"I’m comfortable with Brown saying there has to be some cuts in state benefits and a tax increase," said Navjot Singh, 31, a software engineer. "He’s been saying both things for a while. I just hope he can follow through with the cuts while also increasing our taxes."
-- Rosanna Xia and Maura Dolan