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Local Lawmakers Upset About Budget

Sacramento, CA — Mother Lode lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly are voicing out about California’s new budget.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the $92 billion spending plan last night, which he says includes significant cuts to welfare and social services. Much of the budget relies on voters approving the Governor’s tax measure on the November ballot. It would raise the state’s sales tax, and bump up the income tax on earners making over $250k.

District 14 Republican Senator Tom Berryhill says he is disappointed that there are no reforms to the state’s public employee pension system.

“Just three weeks ago, Californians overwhelmingly voted for much needed pension reforms in San Diego and San Jose, and yet Democrats have still not addressed them at the state level,” says Berryhill. “There are no real reforms in this budget that would spur economic growth and get Californians back to work.”

District 25 Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen is concerned that the budget relies on the tax increases. If they are not approved, trigger cuts would go into effect, primarily impacting education.

“The Democrats are calling this an austere budget, but it actually increases spending by 7% – over $5 Billion higher than last year,” says Olsen. “Why would Californians vote to increase taxes, when the “austere” budget increases spending? People in other states – and in our own communities – are utterly dismayed by the decisions made in California and by the majority party’s upside-down priorities.”

The Governor’s Office states that the budget protects funding for education and public safety (assuming the taxes pass), while cutting $8 billion from government to close a $15.7 billion deficit, and build a reserve of nearly $1 billion.

The Associated Press has released the following bullet points about the budget:

_Fills a $15.7 billion deficit. However, an estimated $8.5 billion in revenue is contingent on voters approving a Nov. 6 ballot issue calling for increasing the sales tax and raising income tax for people who make more than $250,000 a year.

_Phases in a two-year time limit for people enrolled in the welfare-to-work program to find a job. Currently, parents on welfare have four years.

_Allows Brown to furlough state workers without an agreement with their unions for a 5 percent reduction in wages.

_Merges service delivery in California’s Medi-Cal program for those who are eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare. Reduces payments to hospitals.

_Eliminates the children’s health insurance program Healthy Families. Moves 880,000 children currently enrolled to Medi-Cal.

_Reduces child care assistance by 8.7 percent, which will cut slots available to low-income families by 10,600.

_Requires higher graduation rates for colleges and universities to qualify for state college aid. Reduces Cal Grants beginning in the 2013-14 school year from about $9,700 to $9,000. The grant is lowered again to $8,000 in 2014-15. Students planning to attend for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix will get even less financial aid, about $4,000.

_Extends a 3.6 percent across-the-board cut for in-home care.

_Calls for about $6 billion in cuts to take effect on Jan. 1 if voters do not approve the tax initiative. About $5.5 billion would come from reducing the public school year from 175 days to 160 for two years. Almost all the rest would come from cuts to the University of California and California State University systems.