Jerry Brown's budget isn't quite the half-tax, half-cut plan he says it is
Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) called Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan "Solomonesque" on Thursday for trying to tackle the state's swollen deficit with an equal split of taxes and cuts.
But does Brown really balance the budget with a 50-50 mix of cuts and taxes? Not quite.
Brown’s spending blueprint, aimed at resolving a $25.4-billion deficit, would actually raise taxes by $14 billion, despite his claims of only $12 billion in tax increases.
Through some creative accounting, the Brown administration doesn’t count the first $2 billion in income tax increases his plan would levy because the money automatically augments the K-12 schools and community college budgets and doesn’t go toward shrinking the deficit.
Some Republicans have accused Brown of using fuzzy accounting and fiscal gimmicks –- which Brown has heavily criticized predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger for using –- to make his plan appear more politically palatable. They point out that some of the “cuts” that Brown tallies in adding up to his $12.5 billion in expenditure reductions are not cutbacks in the truest sense.
Brown, for instance, counts a complex transportation fee change that would have little impact on services as a $1-billion spending cutback. A plan to ask voters to shift money from a voter-approved tobacco tax that is earmarked for certain early childhood programs to other children’s programs counts as another $1-billion cut.
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor acknowledged Wednesday that the blend of proposals is more complex than the 50-50 split Brown has publicly presented, but he noted the plan still contained “substantial” and difficult choices on each side of the budgeting ledger.
“We’d rather not quibble over what’s half and half,” Taylor said.
-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento