The most basic problem is that
the governor plans to introduce a budget premised on the idea that
voters in November will approve a midyear increase in income taxes on
the wealthy and sales taxes, with “trigger cuts” hammering public
schools if they are rejected. This screwball brinkmanship bodes terribly
for schools if it fails and sets a horrible precedent if it succeeds.
Only in Sacramento could a budget strategy that evokes a legendary
National Lampoon cover – “buy this magazine or we’ll kill the dog” – be
seen as inspired.
most outside experts believe the governor exaggerates the revenue the
tax hikes would generate. The Legislative Analyst’s Office says Brown’s
expectations of a huge capital gains windfall are $6.5 billion too high.
And the 2012-13 fiscal
year won’t even begin in balance. Instead, there’s likely to be a
multibillion-dollar shortfall left over from the current fiscal year
because of the inaccuracy of Brown’s revenue estimates and assumptions
from the last budget fight. State reductions in human services and
health programs funded partly with federal dollars or governed by
federal rules have been the target of court challenges and
second-guessing by the Obama administration. A state Finance Department
spokesman estimates this has wiped out nearly $2 billion in budget
savings since last summer. Guess what: More such maneuvers are
contemplated in the 2012-13 budget.