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Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address struck an important balance between acknowledging the immediate challenges faced by our state while also maintaining a long term vision of California as a place of innovation and opportunity.
As the Legislature analyzes the Governor’s proposed budget, we must take both a thoughtful and prudent approach. The state budget is not just about numbers; it directly affects the lives of real people. It is about putting Californians back to work, keeping teachers in the classroom, and making sure our communities have cops and firefighters keeping us safe. It is about supporting small businesses, the keystone of our state’s economy, and leading the way in the creation of “green” jobs that create prosperity while protecting our environment. We also have to determine what comes next in terms of helping communities boost economic development and affordable housing. And we have to find ways to ease the financial burden on middle class families trying to send their kids to college.
Last year, Assembly Democrats worked with the Governor to produce an on-time budget that eliminated more than three-fourths of California’s ongoing deficit. Assembly Democrats are committed to working with the Governor to build on the progress we made by passing another on-time budget this year.
The Assembly also wants to examine very carefully whether budget proposals impacting children, the elderly and disabled, and families struggling to work and stay off welfare would actually do more harm than good.
We’ll also be working together to ensure California gets the new revenues necessary to put the state’s fiscal house in order. The Governor has taken a reasonable approach to new revenues by asking the people of California for their support of temporary revenue measures to protect priorities such as education while we grapple with our immediate challenges. Without new revenues, draconian cuts will take place. This is not posturing; it is simple arithmetic. The results of these cuts could include:
• School kids could miss out on three weeks of instruction;
• More increase in tuition throughout California’s public university system;
• Fewer resources with which to combat wildfires;
• Reduced funding for already-cash strapped courts which translates into reduced public safety; and
• Reduction of lifeguards at state beaches.
The task that lies ahead is daunting, but I look forward to working together with my colleagues in the State Legislature and with Governor Brown to restore the promise of the Golden State.