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Budget Crisis

bill_MonningWhat is the difference between the Democrat’s budget proposal that failed passage last week and Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal?


The irony about the Democratic budget that failed passage last week is that 45 percent of the proposals we voted on were the exact same proposals as those in the governor’s May revise.  Of the remaining portion of the budget proposed last week, at least 93 percent contained a portion of the governor’s budget proposals.  ( It may be ironic, but I doubt readers will applaud how aligned with the governor the Dems are. Best not to draw attention to the similarities, since most people seem to loathe the governor’s proposal right now.

How about instead: The governor’s proposal to bridge the $24 billion deficit does so with $16 billion worth of cuts which slice deeply into the social safety net.

The budget I supported saved programs assisting the state’s most vulnerable and needy citizens, protected local governments, state parks, and CalGrants.  The governor’s budget would have eliminated CalWORKs, Healthy Families, and Adult Day Care, would have borrowed $2 billion, or 8 percent of  of local government revenues, closed 220 state parks, and phased out CalGrants.  The Democrats budget raises $2 billion dollars by taxing cigarettes, oil extraction and establishing a $15 vehicle fee to fund the parks.

 

Over the past few weeks, the Budget Conference Committee held hearings that were attended by thousands of Californians.  Teachers, counselors, nurses, and education support professionals, who had already received layoff notices, testified as to the harm that would befall our students if the governor’s proposed budget reductions were made.  Californians receiving In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) testified that the governor’s virtual elimination of the program would have forced them, along with approximately 394,000 other IHSS recipients, into more expensive state-funded nursing homes.  College students stated that if the governor’s plan to phase out CalGrants was implemented they would most likely have no other option than to drop out of school.

The governor’s plan was not balanced and did not ask every Californian to sacrifice in order to help the greater good.  While the Democratic budget plan still had to make funding reductions to vital state programs, it asks that everyone share the pain.  In my opinion, the Democratic budget proposal made painful but responsible choices.

The Budget Conference Committee recently recommended a proposal to keep the state parks open.  What does the proposal entail and how will it benefit California’s state parks?

I strongly disagree with the governor’s proposal to close 220 California state parks because their safe operation is essential to sustaining local economies and to the very preservation of life.  California’s state parks are economic engines that generate over $4.2 billion in jobs and revenues to local communities.  Park staff also provide life-saving interventions and last year engaged in 133 aquatic rescues and 47 major medical incidents in Santa Cruz County alone.  Elimination of these services will most certainly result in the loss of human life.

The proposal by the Budget Conference Committee would keep the state parks open with a $15 per vehicle registration fee, and generate $420 million annually. This idea was first proposed last year by former Assemblymember John Laird and would pay for all the expenses associated with operating the parks statewide and permit any vehicle with a valid California license plate to enter a state park. It is working well in other states, and could work here, too.

This option represents a reasonable alternative to the closure of parks and I encourage those who would like to keep the state parks open to contact the governor to let him know they support this targeted fee increase.

Recently, Assembly Bill 761 (AB 761), by Assemblymember Charles Calderon, was heard on the Assembly Floor.  Can you describe the intent of this bill and explain why you voted against it?

AB 761 seeks to enact vacancy decontrol in California mobile-home parks.  Currently, local governments have the ability to institute rent control policies for mobilehome parks and if AB 761 becomes law it will allow owners of mobilehome parks to increase the rental rate of any unit by as much as 100 percent upon the vacancy of a unit starting in 2017.

Mobile homes are an affordable housing option for people interested in living on the Central Coast and a large number of mobilehome residents are senior citizens on fixed incomes.  For many mobile home owners, their mobilehome is not only their residence, it often represents the investment of their life savings.

AB 761 threatens to destroy the value of these investments and I could not in good conscience support the bill when it was heard on the Assembly Floor.  Unfortunately, the bill passed out of the Assembly and is currently in the Senate.  I encourage those concerned about this issue to contact their State Senator and express their opposition to this damaging measure.

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