Policy For Addressing Budget Gap
August 21, 2008
The Honorable Don Perata
President pro Tempore
California State Senate
P.O. Box 942848
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001 By Fax
Re: Policy for addressing the budget gap
Dear Senator Perata:
The League of Women Voters of California understands the challenge of a projected budget gap of $15 billion between expected revenues and spending, but we do not believe it can be addressed solely through spending cuts, borrowing, and the shifting of funds.
The impact on Californians of the cuts that have already been made in basic health care is staggering, and all of the current budget proposals include further reductions in such essential services. These cuts in health care, education, and other areas will chiefly affect those Californians who are least able to bear the burden, including children, the elderly, and the disabled. Moreover, quick budget fixes that will shortchange our education, infrastructure, and environmental needs will harm the long-term economic future of our state. We are already falling far short of the resources needed to educate our young people for the economy they will enter, our capital improvement needs are outrunning the funds essential to keep our infrastructure up to reasonable standards, and our natural resources are threatened.
We would support a reasonable plan to improve the state’s “rainy day fund,” but proposals to impose rigid spending caps would simply mean that we would continue to cut back critical services that Californians need and expect to have.
The League of Women Voters supports revenues that are sufficient and flexible enough to meet changing needs for state and local government services, and that ensure fair sharing of the tax burden, with emphasis on the ability to pay.
As the current economic situation reduces both state and local revenues, the demand for services increases. California, even with its problems, is one of the largest economies in the world. Taxes do not subtract money from the economy; they allow for government expenditures in areas that are critical to a healthy economy. California’s long-term economic potential cannot be realized, nor can its quality of life be protected, unless we invest in education, health services and infrastructure.
We urge the Legislature to make difficult choices and come together on a budget that will minimize damaging cuts this year and then to move on to a serious consideration of our budget process and finance system. This year once again shows the consequences of a process and system that is widely recognized as dysfunctional. Californians have a right to expect their leaders to take on the task of improving it.
Janis R. Hirohama
cc: Senator Denise Ducheny, Chair, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review
Senator Darrell Steinberg
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger