Why does Gov. Brown’s May budget revise feel like déjà vu all over again?

May 14, 2012

California Governor

Gov. Jerry Brown deliver his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

It sounds a lot like California 4 years ago: Governor Jerry Brown this morning announced plans to plug a nearly $16-billion gap in the state budget, with $8.3 billion in cuts from government spending on healthcare and welfare, and a proposed 5-10-percent cut to state workers’ pay.

On the brighter side, his May budget revise did propose a 16-percent increase in funding for K-12 education. To pay for it, Brown is proposing a temporary $6-billion increase in taxes to help pay for education and public safety in the form of a tax initiative that he’ll put to California voters when they head to the polls this fall. If voters approve Brown’s tax increase, it will temporarily raise income taxes for the wealthiest Californians for seven years and increase the sales tax by one-quarter percent for four years.


Before we look ahead to the perennial June 15th deadline to pass a fiscal plan, how is California back here again, staring down a $16-billion budget deficit—almost double what it was four months ago? Brown pointed to tax revenues and state spending levels that didn’t meet overly optimistic expectations, but how were they so off and is there more to the big picture?


Joe Mathews, California editor, Zocalo Public Square; author, “The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy” and “California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How we Can Fix It”

Julie Chapman, director, Department of Personnel Administration

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