SF Gray Panthers Newsletter, July 2009
Beyond Bad California Budgets
A look at both State and City budgets shows the situation is very severe: a $24 billion State shortfall and a $438 million San Francisco shortfall. You can also see there’s a severe crisis by looking at death-sentence cuts being seriously considered: no renal dialysis and breast or cervical cancer treatment for Medi-Cal recipients over age 65, or eliminating home care for 90% of IHSS patients.
A big part of the State problem is that liberal and Democratic legislators have the attitude that they must be responsible and pass a budget quickly, with any lethal cuts that business and Republicans demand, so that the state doesn’t go over the edge. But retirees, kids, badly sick or disabled people, or low-wage workers are already over the edge. Many are skipping meals, skipping meds and doctor visits, and late on rent and becoming homeless. This is not the time for legislative responsibility! It’s time to say “Never!” to a cuts-only budget. A budget that does not meet our basic needs does not deserve to exist! Are you ready, Sacramento?
California’s taxes on corporations and the rich are far less than levels set by Republicans thirty years ago, and are low by national standards. The February 2009 budget alone contained some $2.5 billion/year in corporate tax loopholes, starting in 2011. Californians are ready for taxes. A David Binder poll last month showed 75% support for both alcohol and tobacco tax increases; 73% support for oil drilling fees; 63% support for both commercial property reassessments, and for a higher income tax on the highest brackets; and 59% support for limiting corporate tax credits.
Ultimately, many are saying we need to get rid of the requirement of a 2/3 vote of legislators to pass a budget. After seeing the devastating cuts and the “tyranny of the minority” in recent year’s budget battles, one might think this was a no-brainer. However, according to Jodi Reid, of CARA, recent polling is NOT in favor of repealing this requirement, and it is precisely seniors, retirees, and other fixed-income people who want to keep it. We will have our work cut out for us to persuade our cohorts to abandon politics of fear and isolation if we hope to ax the 2/3 requirement as a November, 2010 ballot measure.