You might not be a California state legislator, and you might not even play one on TV, but you can now try your hand at reducing California’s gazillion-dollar budget deficit, thanks to a fun budget widget from the Sacramento Bee.
OK, a gazillion dollars might not be exactly accurate. Newly re-inaugurated Governor Jerry Brown is looking for ways to axe $26.4 billion from the deficit, through a combination of spending cuts, extensions of tax increases, and pushing off some responsibilities to cities. Here in San Francisco, where our city’s budget deficit isn’t quite a gazillion dollars (more like a bazillion instead), that could mean trouble. More about that in a different post.
There are certainly no easy answers to California’s budget woes, and the Sac Bee’s budget tool makes that crystal clear. What to chop? Education? Aid to developmentally disabled kids? Prisons? Libraries? State parks? We’ve written about redevelopment agencies; chopping them from the budget could save California $1.7 billion. Or are pensions the biggest problem in the mix?
On the revenue side, there are all kinds of options on the table: Governor Brown has proposed, among other options, calling an election to get the public’s approval for extending tax increases put in place in 2009 for five more years.
Just today he announced that he is canceling a plan (from former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) to sell several state buildings, raising just over a billion bucks in the short term but costing taxpayers a bundle more than that in the long term by paying rent to the new owners for the next 20 years.
For what it’s worth, some economic poo-bahs say Jerry Brown’s budget is largely gimmick-free and that it actually solves a chunk the state’s budget deficit instead of kicking the can down the road.
If you’ve got a great budget-balancing scenario, send it to the state legislature — they can use the help.