The poor staffer who mistakenly posted Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget on the Internet last week probably doesn't have a job this week, but we should all thank him for his mistake.
Releasing details of the budget four days early meant the politicians and special interest groups had four fewer days to work on their spin in reaction to the plan.
For once, they were telling the truth when they claimed they were "Shocked .<th>.<th>. shocked!" by the governor's budget proposal.
It's nothing to make light of, really. In order to help close a $9.2 billion-with-a-B deficit, Brown is calling for deep cuts in social and health-care programs, and a huge bite in school funding of $4.8 billion. Again, that's billion with a B. It's the equivalent of shortening the school year by three weeks.
"We're making some very painful reductions," Brown said. "This is not nice stuff."
No, it's not nice stuff. And it comes on top of some very serious cuts that already have been made to education, parks, services to the disabled and other programs. California already has reduced its deficit from last year's whopping $26 billion gap, but we still have a long way to go.
Some of us believe it's time to meet that number in the middle, by adding some extra revenue to the equation. The governor is asking us to avoid some of the cuts — particularly those targeted at education — by voting for some new taxes in November. He proposed a temporary half-cent increase in the state sales tax and higher taxes on those making $250,000 a year or more.
In exchange, kids get a full year of school.
That's a tough sell in today's economy, and in today's rhetorical atmosphere in which any tax is evil. As if paying to educate our children is a socialist conspiracy.
I don't know that Brown's solution is the right one. It may be changed before November, or others may even appear on the ballot. But I agree with what the governor said before the budget was prematurely leaked:
"Here's the dilemma: People don't want cuts in education and health care and policing, but they don't want to pay taxes, either.
"So the challenge for today's politics is to clarify the choices."
Let the clarification begin.
Chris Coursey's blog offers a community commentary and forum, from issues of the day to the ingredients of life in Sonoma County.