WALTERS: State budget game gets under way
Published: Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.
Steinberg, the state Senate’s leader, was talking about the state budget game, which will be particularly difficult this year.
Later this month, Gov. Jerry Brown will release what Capitol types call the
It certainly won’t happen before June 5, primary election day. With many legislators running in much-changed districts, sometimes against one another, and with a new top-two primary system in place, nobody — particularly no Democrat — wants to cast budget votes until after primary ballots are counted.
Brown’s January budget assumed that the current budget would close on June 30 with about a $4 billion deficit, plus another $5 billion gap in 2012-13. But since then, revenues have fallen behind, so the two-year deficit will be at least $12 billion and perhaps much higher because revenues are weak and spending is over budget.
When the projected deficit was about $9 billion, Brown wanted to close it with new taxes. Signatures will soon be submitted for a November ballot measure that would hike income and sales taxes by about that amount. But passage is uncertain, and even were taxes raised, they would not cover the larger deficit.
Polls on the tax issue are somewhat ambivalent. Voters seem to be inclined to vote for income taxes on high-income Californians, as Brown proposes, but dislike paying more sales taxes, the other piece of the plan.
Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
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