Brown’s budget is nasty but necessary

If Republicans have an alternative, let’s see it

In his State of the State speech Monday (Jan. 31), Gov. Jerry Brown minced no words in calling for legislators once and for all to take action to resolve the state’s structural budget deficit, now more than $25 billion, and approve his budget proposal.

Now’s the time, he said. Solve this budget problem, and “California will be in a strong position to take advantage of its many assets and its strategic location on the Pacific Rim. As the countries of Asia and south of our border continue to thrive and expand their trade, our state will play a leading role, as it always has, and reap unimagined benefits.”

Brown’s proposal calls for $12.5 billion in budget cuts, an extension of $9 billion in taxes due to expire later this year, and a historic realignment of state government that would shift most services to local governments. The package will require a vote of the people in a special election in order to become effective.

As Brown knows all too well, it’s a proposal people love to hate.

“If you are a Democrat who doesn’t want to make budget reductions in programs you fought for and deeply believe in, I understand that,” the governor said. “If you are a Republican who has taken a stand against taxes, I understand where you are coming from. But things are different this time. In fact, the people are telling us—in their own way—that they sense that something is profoundly wrong.”

Most pointedly, he stated that it would be “unconscionable” for Republican legislators to block the election. Noting that they have failed to produce an alternative budget, he insisted the people “have a right to vote on this plan. The state belongs to all of us, not just those in this chamber.”

Polls show voters want to vote. Republican legislators need to understand that they do themselves, their party and the state a disfavor by being obstinate without offering alternatives. They should either come up with $25 billion in cuts or get out of the way and let the people decide.