Tuesday, February 15, 2011

California’s Nuclear Option

If Republicans block a tax extension from being placed on the June ballot or if voters reject it (as they may, since it increases taxes for the majority of Californians, while letting the rich off painlessly), Gov. Brown has threatened to push the button.

California currently has a $25.4 billion deficit. Brown has promised to keep k-12 funding at last year’s level if voters approve the ballot measure. The University of California and Cal State University systems will face $500 million cuts, each, even if the measure passes, and much more if it fails. However, if the measure does not pass, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has outlined a series of dramatic cuts that Gov. Brown would have to take to close the deficit. The LAO estimate assumes no further borrowing or revenue increases.

In addition to the devastating effects these cuts will have on working class and poor Californians, there will be numerous long-term costs to the state that may be far worse than the current budget hole. For example, by slashing state employee pay and health benefits, many families that were living comfortable and secure lives will become working poor. People who no longer can afford health care will delay getting preventative care and treatment for chronic diseases, which will increase absenteeism at work and at school. Childhood hunger and malnourishment will increase, with negative effects on academic achievement. Loss of funding for juvenile crime prevention will result in swelling juvenile detention facilities and further declines in academic achievement, as kids move from public schools to classes within correctional facilities. Declining financial aid and course offerings and increasing costs will prevent more and more youth from getting a college education. Loss of funding for Adult Protective Services will consign many seniors to abusive or dangerous retirements.

Potential Savings
$1.3 billion           K12 Education: Eliminate k-3 class-size reduction
$700 million        K12 Education: Limit kindergarten just to children who are 6 by Sep. 1
$500 million        K12 Education: Eliminate k-3 class-size reduction
$55 million           Community college: Eliminate subsidies for athletics
$85 million           Community college: Eliminate funding for PE & arts that are repeated for credit
$170 million        Community college: Increase fees to $66 per unit
$270 million        UC & CSU: Increase tuition an additional 7% for UC & 10% for CSU
$74 million           UC & CSU: Reduce institutional financial aid by 5%
$623 million        UC & CSU: Reduce operating expenses by 5%; reduce personnel costs by 10%
$124 million        CSU: Reduce enrollment by 5%
$135 million        Limit eligibility for Cal Grants; eliminate fee waivers; raise minimum GPA for eligibility
$300 million        Social Services: Reduce In-Home Supportive Services Wages to minimum wage
$190 million        Social Services: Eliminate food stamps and welfare for immigrants
$120 million        Social Services: Eliminate Medi-Cal benefits for qualified immigrants
$55 million           Social Services: Eliminate Adult Protective Services
$270 million        Social Services: Reduce CalWORKS welfare-to-work program
$506 million        Public Safety: End some grants for juvenile crime prevention
$426 million        Public Safety: Reject some prison expansions
$250 million        Public Safety: Delay court construction projects
$125 million        Public Safety: Reduce parole from three years to 18 months
$100 milion         Gift to Big Oil: Allow new oil drilling off Santa Barbara County coast
$400 million        Gut Public Transportation and reallocate savings to General Fund
$700 million        Impoverish state workers by cutting their pay by an additional 9.24%
$330 million        Further impoverish state workers by cutting health benefits by 30%

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