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Mar 31st
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Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill MonningGov. Jerry Brown recently released his 2012-13 proposed budget, which includes continued cuts to services and the ability to ask voters to raise taxes.  How do you feel about the proposed budget and what does it means for our area?

Gov. Brown’s proposed 2012-13 budget includes very difficult cuts to social programs, including MediCal ($842 million); Childcare Services ($447 million); CalWORKs ($946 million); and In-home Support Services ($164 million). These reductions are part of his solution to close the state’s projected $9.2 billion deficit.  

It is important to note that the governor’s budget assumes that voters will approve temporary income and sales tax increases proposed to be on the November 2012 ballot that would generate an additional $9.2 billion. If Californians reject this proposal, then “trigger cuts” would be made to a number of vital programs, such as schools, higher education institutions, and fire protection services.  

The proposed 2012-13 budget underscores California’s budget crisis and I personally support a balanced solution of additional, temporary revenues combined with less harmful cuts in order to preserve vital social safety net programs and all levels of education. It is unfortunate that those most in need of assistance in our community, such as the elderly, disabled and children, will again be asked to bear the brunt of the proposed cuts. As I have said in the past, I remain committed to protecting vital services as we begin budget negotiations.  

Many state commissions, agencies and programs were eliminated, reduced, restructured or consolidated in the budget. Which of these changes will have the biggest impact? Will these changes hit home for local residents?

The governor’s decision to eliminate, restructure and consolidate numerous state agencies and programs is fiscally responsible and a move toward making state government more efficient and transparent.  

Part of the proposal would eliminate 39 state entities and nine programs, as well as consolidate other programs. One proposal that would have a tremendous impact on all Californians is the merging of the Franchise Tax Board with the tax administration in order to improve revenue collection and the enforcement of tax laws, especially against businesses that are currently avoiding paying their taxes.   

The goal of streamlining state government is to assist our communities, as well as all Californians, by improving their interactions with state services. While transitions of this size take time to implement, I support the governor’s efforts to restructure the delivery of state services in order to provide better customer service, as well as provide significant cost savings.  

What is the status of Assembly Bill 669, which imposes a tax on sweetened beverages? Is it still moving through the legislature?

Unfortunately, Assembly Bill (AB) 669 died in the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation because of the initial start-up costs associated with implementing a new state program, as well as my inability to obtain the two-third vote necessary to advance the measure.  

AB 669 would have established the Children’s Health Promotion Fund (CHPF) in order to fund K-12 programs that promote health and nutrition, as well as fund community nonprofit and public health agencies engaged in the promotion of health and the reduction of childhood obesity. The CHPF would have received $1.7 billion annually through the implementation of a $.01 per fluid ounce surcharge on sugary drinks. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of increased caloric intake by at-risk youth and a leading cause of childhood obesity, which in turn can lead to preventable Type 2 Diabetes.  

In a recent study reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, physicians concluded that a nationwide tax of $.01 per fluid ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in a measurable reduction of people living with preventable diabetes; 95,000 cases of coronary artery disease; 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths. These beneficial health results would be realized within 10 years of the imposition of such a tax.  

While AB 669 was unsuccessful, I remain committed to this important public health campaign. I am proud of the coalition we built in support of AB 669 and look forward to our continued collaboration and advocacy to protect the health of our communities.  

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