We didn’t ask for this

Nothing about the May 19 election said the budget should be balanced by spending cuts only

It continues to perplex us that virtually the entire political leadership in Sacramento has decided that the May 19 election was somehow a directive to make deep, drastic cuts to the budget without looking for new sources of revenue.

The reality is that not one of the five defeated measures on the ballot would have raised taxes. Four of the five had nothing to do with taxes, and the one measure that did—Proposition 1A—merely would have extended an existing temporary tax hike from two years to four. It also would have placed a firm cap on state spending, something Republicans have long championed.

And yet Gov. Schwarzenegger, reading entrails, is proposing nothing but spending cuts to resolve the state’s $24.3 billion deficit, with terrible consequences. Health care for 900,000 children—gone. Cal Grants for 118,000 college students—gone. Most state parks, including Bidwell Mansion—closed. CalWORKs welfare-to-work program—abolished. State universities—cut by another $481 million. University of California—slashed by another $800 million. Community colleges—cut by $581 million. The list goes on.

Is this what voters wanted? No. According to a recent Field Poll, they oppose cuts in all of these areas except parks (by a mere 51 percent) and prisons.

Not only that, but they also support—according to findings by David Binder Research, a polling firm—tapping new sources of revenue in California. For example, 73 percent support an oil-extraction fee of the kind that other oil-producing states have; 63 percent support raising the state income tax for top earners (10 percent for individuals earning more than $272,000 a year, 11 percent for those earning more than $544,000); and 59 percent support prohibiting corporations from offsetting more than 50 percent of their taxes through tax credits.

Most significant, 63 percent of California voters support closing the tax loophole that allows corporations to avoid reassessment of newly purchased property. Changing Proposition 13’s method of reassessing commercial properties won’t solve the state’s immediate fiscal problems, but it certainly merits investigation.

It’s asking too much of California’s poor and middle-class residents, and too little of its businesses and wealthy individuals, to come up with $24.3 billion solely by cutting programs. That’s not what Californians want.