FROM Jean Ross
Governor Brown and the Accidental Budget Governor Brown stunned the legislature and the rest of Sacramento today by releasing next year's proposed budget almost a week early. He called a hasty news conference after his Department of Finance accidentally put in on line. The proposed plan will mean hard times for many Californians. They'll be even harder if voters don't pass increases in sales and income taxes in the November election.
Politics and Finance in a World-Class Economy With a majority vote in the legislature, Democrats can pass a budget, but Republicans can prevent the two-thirds required to raise taxes. The failure to come up with a balanced plan by last week's constitutional deadline means that Senators and Assembly members are not being paid. Now the Democrats and Governor Brown have agreed on a plan based in part on revenues that might never materialize. Most of the cuts to social services were made a couple of months ago. But they could go deeper. If the economy doesn't provide the new revenues the budget depends on, K-12 education will be allowed to drop one week of school. Is this really a state too poor to pay its bills, or is this all about politics? We hear more about what the new budget could mean for the quality of life in California.
Live by the Rich, Die by the Rich California's dependence on wealthy taxpayers brought some good news this week with $6.6 billion in new revenue . But, in the future, bad news is virtually inevitable -- for the same reason. We hear from Robert Frank, writer and blogger for the Wall Street Journal , and Jean Ross, Executive Director of the California Budget Project .
Jerry Brown Presents a Gloomy Budget With a $25 billion budget gap between spending and income, Governor Jerry Brown proposes $12 billion in cuts and will ask voters for $12.5 billion in extended tax hikes. He says there's no other choice. If the budget passes, the state won't be funding local redevelopment agencies. What will be left of the "safety net" for the aged, the disabled and the poor?
The Legislature Adjourns with Unfinished Business The State Assembly and Senate still haven't passed a budget, but they have cracked down on abuses of public trust by local officials, at the same time they're ending this year's legislative session with $380,000 in campaign money raised from lobbyists in the past few days. We hear about some of the pain caused when there's no spending plan.
Schwarzenegger’s Final State of the State Address As he began his last year in office today, Governor Schwarzenegger addressed a joint session of the Legislature, beginning on a positive note. He called the first priority the economy and jobs. Other priorities include tax, budget and pension reform as well as a re-ordering of spending priorities. While the Governor voiced support for healthcare reform, he criticized transition from “noble and needed legislation” to a trough of bribes, deals and loopholes.” We hear from some tough-minded Sacramento insiders about jobs, education, prisons, tax reform and the waning power of a lame-duck Governor.
Will the State Tax System Be Reformed? The sales tax in California may be the nation's highest, but 53% of state revenues come from the income tax. That creates problems, because incomes rise and fall with the stock market and the economy, creating the ups and downs that defy planning and lead to continuing budget crises. Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature created the Commission on the 21st Century Economy to develop a new system. The Commission's final report won't be presented until later this week, but its principal features are known. It would eliminate the sales tax and the corporate income tax and flatten the personal income tax by eliminating the top brackets. Lost revenue would be replaced by something called the Business Net Receipts Tax or BNRT.
California Voters Have a Message Sacramento May Not Want to Hear With the least number of possible votes, the Legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger put six measures on a special election that will take place in just three weeks. They would implement the budget deal worked out in one of the longest and most acrimonious sessions in state history. Today, the Field Poll released survey results which indicate that it will be a “send-them-a-message election.” Proposition 1a : Limits State Spending, Establishes Rainy Day Stabilization Fund Proposition 1b : Education Funding Proposition 1c : Lottery Modernization Act Proposition 1d : Protects Children’s Services Funding Proposition 1e : Mental Health Services Funding Proposition 1f : Elected Officials’ Salaries
How Will Increased Sales Tax Affect Car Sales in California? Billboards, radio ads and reminders by mail are urging California consumers to “Buy Now,” before the state sales tax goes up tomorrow by one cent on the dollar. We look at tomorrow's tax increase and its possible impact on California.
Tentative Budget Deal Reached With California facing a $42 billion shortfall in the next 18 months, just five people are negotiating a state budget with consequences that could last for a decade. Today, reports leaked from the “cone of silence” surrounding Governor Schwarzenegger, two Republicans and two Democrats who lead their parties in the Assembly and Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters they've agreed on a “common framework.” Meantime, labor and environmental groups have asked Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate charges that Republicans have demanded a weakening of protections and standards as a price for their votes for the budget. Brown, who may run for Governor again, says there's a “serious question” of illegal vote trading. We get the details and hear about charges that Republicans are breaking anti-bribery laws.
California Unemployment Fund out of Money Unemployment in Los Angeles County has doubled to 9.9% in the past year. It’s almost that high statewide. But the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund is about to run out of money . In 2001, benefits were expanded, but not the tax base that pays for them. Among those who predicted a crisis were the Legislative Analyst and the California Budget Project, where Jean Ross is Executive Director. We hear from Ross and from Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast.
The Winners and the Losers After the Budget Battle The battle over this year’s budget was all about the role of government and the services Californians both deserve and are willing to pay for. The total package is actually bigger than last year’s, but one side says it contains draconian cuts that will work hardships on many people.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
Janesville and the American Dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn’t prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. On this Memorial Day rebroadcast of To the Point, we hear what’s happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.