Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his long-awaited state budget revision, and here we go again with a proposal that’s mostly all about drastic spending cuts to social services that help the elderly, low-income families and the mentally ill.
Yes, dramatic steps need to be taken to deal with a predicted budget deficit of $18.6 billion to $22 billion through fiscal 2010-2011. But last week’s “May revise” would kill off CalWorks, the state’s welfare-to-work program, and would slash $15 million from the well-reputed Healthy Families program, which serves 900,000 low-income children. It would end home health-care programs for the elderly, cut funds that support mental-health programs and slice deeply into Medi-Cal benefits for the poor and indigent.
It doesn’t need to happen. Here’s what we should consider instead:
• Impose an oil-extraction fee of that kind that all other oil-producing states have.
• Repeal the $2 billion in corporate tax breaks that were approved as part of the February 2009 budget deal.
• Broaden the sales tax to include services such as legal, accounting, auto repair, and entertainment and gambling.
• Increase tobacco and alcohol taxes.
• Reinstate the top income-tax bracket to 11 percent.
Enactment of even a few of the above proposals could mean the beginning of an end to California’s perennial budget madness.