Staring at a $25.4 billion state budget deficit, Gov. Jerry Brown presented a proposal last week for addressing the problem. If approved by the Legislature, and if funding sources are placed on the ballot for voter approval, the fiscal strategy would be carried out during the next 18 months and include significant changes to government operation and the addition of $12 billion in taxes.
Brown’s budget proposes total spending of $127.4 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Of this amount, proposed General Fund spending totals $84.6 billion.
Topping the list of changes that would have a direct impact on agriculture is the proposed elimination of funding for the land conservation program known as the Williamson Act, and greatly increased fees for water discharge permits. The California Department of Food and Agriculture also would see its budget reduced.
Broad Range Of Spending Reduction
The governor’s proposal includes $12.5 billion in spending cuts, among them a reduction of $1.7 billion in the Medi-Cal program, $1.5 billion in cuts to the state welfare program, $1 billion in cuts for the University of California and state university systems, $750 million in the Department of Developmental Services and $580 million in state operations and employee compensation.
Calling the proposal a “vast and historic” restructuring of government, the Department of Finance says the governor’s budget sets the goal of delivering public services more efficiently and effectively by returning many programs to local governments.
John Gamper, California Farm Bureau Federation director of taxation and land use, pointed out that the 0.25 percent personal income tax surcharge and the reduction in the dependent exemption credit, adopted in February 2009, both expired on Dec. 31.
Will Voters Approve New Taxes?
Gamper says the governor’s budget is “based on the hope that California voters will reverse their strong stance against new taxes, evidenced in the past two elections, and that the Legislature will vote for the tax increases. Even with a vote of the people, a tax increase still requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.”
The governor also proposed repeal the California Community Redevelopment Law and to repeal the Enterprise Zone tax benefits for businesses that locate in specified economically depressed areas.
California Farm Bureau Federation recently published this article on its Web site. For additional information, go to www.cfbf.com.