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Assembly GOP offers state budget proposal

May 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
As a state budget stalemate continues, Assembly Republicans offered a new proposal Thursday, a plan to close the budget gap through massive cuts, not tax hikes.

The Assembly Republican budget proposal wipes away the remaining $14-billion deficit without raising taxes, a stark contrast to Governor Jerry Brown's plan that extends temporary tax hikes on personal income, sales and car registration for five more years.

"We still believe we can get there without taxes. And we think the voters have been very clear that that is their desire," said state Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare), the assembly minority leader.

Republicans want to erase a chunk of the deficit by assuming a $5-billion windfall. Tax collections are already up $2.5 billion.

The proposal also assumes voters will go for emptying out special funds for mental health and kids programs, shifting $2.3 billion to the General Fund.

And GOP lawmakers target state worker pay and department budgets, saving $1.7 billion by cutting 10 percent each, and programs for the needy would be slashed by $1.4 billion.

"Their document is basically looking at this as a short-term problem and is using highly risky assumptions," said Assm. Bob Blumenfield (D-Los Angeles).

California teachers who've been at the Capitol all week pushing for Brown's tax extensions say they'd like the Republican proposal to give at least $2 billion of the windfall to schools, but the rest of the line items shouldn't suffer.

"It's not just a problem for schools. It's a problem for the entire state's budget. And so that's everything from public safety to the parks to healthcare," said Don Dawson, a teacher from San Jose.

"When you don't tax people, they have the opportunity to grow more and spend more. So the pathway we're providing without taxes, we think will stimulate the economy even more," said Assm. Conway.

Once they figure this year out, the battle will be far from over. The non-partisan state legislative analyst predicts the state budget will have a $20-billion deficit every year for the next five years.