Q: Do you support Gov. Brown’s proposal to ask the voters to approve a five-year extension of tax increases as an alternative to cutting $12 billion top of the roughly $12 billion he already has proposed to cut? Would you vote for the measure?
No. California’s legislature and governor need to implement fundamental reforms involving education, health care, welfare, and pensions. Frightening voters with draconian service cuts if they fail to approve a tax increase resembles extortion.
The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council has just ranked California as the fourth worst state for small business in part because of its taxes. While the voice of Californians should certainly be heard, the proposed ballot timing is also terrible. A June vote rejecting higher taxes would leave the state entering fiscal 2012 on July 1 with a deficit overhang of $12 billion. This could well cause the borrowing from different funds and other financial shenanigans frequently seen in Sacramento.
California’s budget challenge should not be presented as a stark choice between tax increases and service cuts. Rather the focus should be on how to more productively accomplish our education, health, and other goals through working with the unions, outsourcing “non-core” public services, and “thinking outside the box.”