SACRAMENTO — The Legislature's nonpartisan analyst on Wednesday called Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal a "good starting point" for rebuilding state government but cautioned that it carries a lot of risk.
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor released his assessment of Brown's proposal to close an estimated $25.4 billion shortfall over the next 18 months with temporary tax extensions, deep program cuts and a reorganization of state and local governments.
"The governor's proposal includes reductions in nearly every area of the state budget and a package of revenue proposals that merit serious legislative consideration," Taylor wrote. "We think the governor's package is a good starting point for legislative deliberations."
Taylor credited Brown for looking for long-term solutions for a state that has faced persistent budget problems. He said Brown's proposals to shift more state responsibilities to local governments are bold and "have much merit."
Still, the analyst found plenty of risk in the governor's plan. Taylor cautioned that a government reorganization would come with legal, fiscal and policy hurdles.
Brown called for $12.5 billion in spending cuts, including reductions in welfare, social services and higher education, as well as $12 billion in funding shifts and new revenue if voters agree to extend temporary taxes.
Brown has said he wants to pass key budget bills by March 1 and go to voters with a five-year extension on sales and income taxes and vehicle fees in a June special election.
"If the voters reject some or all of these solutions, the Legislature would need to promptly enact additional cuts or alternative revenue solutions prior to the start of the new fiscal year in July," Taylor wrote.
Brown on Monday unveiled a spending plan that seeks to ask California residents what they want from state government and how much they are willing to pay for it. He is seeking to fundamentally restructure state government, shifting a host of responsibilities, from incarcerating low-level offenders to providing foster care, to local governments.
The report urged state lawmakers to act early, giving state agencies more time to implement spending reductions.