Oakland assembly members speak out against Arnold’s cuts only budget proposal

3 Jun

Last week, I wrote about Assemblymember Noreen Evans’ awesome budget blog, and if you’ve been following the budget process you know that things are looking just as grim for the state as they are for Oakland. Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing cuts, cuts, and more cuts (oh, and one fee), just as he did during the last budget crisis. But you might be thinking that those cuts won’t get made because the Democrats are going to stand up against them and hold out until a better deal is reached, right?

Wrong.

As the Calitics team has been so thoroughly documenting, Darrell Steinberg and Karen Bass, who are supposed to be leading the Democrats in Sacramento, have given in to Arnold’s rhetoric. David Dayen wrote a brilliant post about this earlier this week, claiming that Sacramento Democrats have the “Sacramento Syndrome”:

Here’s the problem, in a nutshell.  In 1978 California passed Prop. 13, and Democrats have run for cover ever since.  They should have put up a fight immediately.  But instead, Democrats cowered in fear of losing power, despite the demographic shifts in the state since the mid-1990s, so they lay low and never advocate for the necessary reforms, and buy completely into the myth that the 70’s-era tax revolt remains alive and well, and they take public opinion polls like this as static and unchangeable through anything resembling leadership.  Obviously Republicans are insane in this state, but they can barely manage 1/3 of the legislature (and if we had a half-decent campaign apparatus among California Democrats they’d lose that too) and shouldn’t be feared in any respect.  Yet our Democratic leadership exists in a post-1978 fog, a kind of “Sacramento Syndrome,” where they’ve come to love their captors on the right, and have bought into their claims.

Fortunately though, not all Democratic legislators have fallen under the spell of this syndrome. Noreen Evans continues to speak out against a cuts only solution. And Oakland’s assemblymembers are speaking out as well.

After the Governor’s speech yesterday, they both issued strong statements. Assemblymember Sandre Swanson said:

Our budget must reflect our priorities. It must reflect what kind of state we want to be.  I believe our state should be one that gives priority to children, seniors, and support for working families, all of which requires us to invest in our state.  I hope we will look at revenue solutions that are realistic, that help the state support its safety net programs, and that provide Californians with the services they require and demand as they work to bring our state through this economic crisis.

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner echoed similar concerns, backing up her position with polling that shows that Californians support some taxes and don’t want to see deep cuts:

Two recent polls (Binder, www.docstoc.com/docs/6220193/Reasons-Prop-1A-Failed-memo, and the California Field Poll, www.field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2306.pdf ) reveal that Californians support some revenue increases and do not favor drastic cuts to education, health care and other essential services.

We have choices. For instance, restoring the top income tax rate on high wealth incomes of $250,000 and above in place under Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Ronald Reagan would allow us to avoid $4 billion of these cuts.  Enacting an oil severance fee on oil drilled in California, revenue collected by every state and country in the world that produces significant amounts of oil, could avoid another $1 billion in cuts.

Oaklanders should be proud that our Assemblymembers not only have a solid grasp on the real issues here but are brave enough to speak out for their principals, when many of their colleagues are not.

Here are the full press releases from Swanson and Skinner:

Swanson Responds To Governor’s Budget Proposal

(Sacramento) – In response to Governor Schwarzenegger’s address to the joint session of the State Legislature, Assemblymember Swanson (D-Alameda), made the following statement:

“The Governor’s proposal to balance the $24 billion budget shortfall without the use of additional revenues is neither a fair nor realistic solution to the budget crisis.  I find it morally objectionable for the Governor’s proposals to specifically cut Cal-Works, Healthy Families, Cal-Grants, In-home service care for the elderly, and even access to State parks.  The Governor’s proposal also fails at its intended goals: it fails to address our deficit and it fails to reflect our priorities.

In this budget year alone, we have instituted $23 billion of cuts, over 20% of our $105 billion budget. These cuts represent a tremendous amount of pain for California, a serious reduction in services to our constituencies, and a reduction in the prosperity of our state.

Our budget must reflect our priorities. It must reflect what kind of state we want to be.  I believe our state should be one that gives priority to children, seniors, and support for working families, all of which requires us to invest in our state.  I hope we will look at revenue solutions that are realistic, that help the state support its safety net programs, and that provide Californians with the services they require and demand as they work to bring our state through this economic crisis.”

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner Says We Have Choices

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) issued a statement today responding to Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget address:

The Governor’s opening statement that the voters in rejecting the special election measures said, “don’t ask us to solve complex budget issues, that’s your job,” is right.

He was wrong however in his assertion that Californians want an all cuts solution.

Two recent polls (Binder, www.docstoc.com/docs/6220193/Reasons-Prop-1A-Failed-memo, and the California Field Poll, www.field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2306.pdf ) reveal that Californians support some revenue increases and do not favor drastic cuts to education, health care and other essential services.

We have choices. For instance, restoring the top income tax rate on high wealth incomes of $250,000 and above in place under Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Ronald Reagan would allow us to avoid $4 billion of these cuts.  Enacting an oil severance fee on oil drilled in California, revenue collected by every state and country in the world that produces significant amounts of oil, could avoid another $1 billion in cuts.

The Governor talked of us acting courageously. Acting courageously is looking at all alternatives and making smart, rational choices that lessen the cuts with some sensible new revenues.

2 Responses to “Oakland assembly members speak out against Arnold’s cuts only budget proposal”

  1. Andy K June 3, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    Why are Democrats so afraid to stand up for something? If they can’t, they don’t deserve to be there. This is one thing that drives people like me away from them. Seems like the same situation in Washington.

    The Oakland Assembly people run pretty much unopposed, so there stance is not risky. But others need to take a chance.

    The Oil Extraction tax seems like the biggest no-brainer there is. Oil is priced on the world market; our taxing it might cause companies to look for oil elsewhere (doubtful), but even if they did, they will be back sooner or latter.

    • Becks June 3, 2009 at 10:54 am #

      The truth is that Karen Bass, Darrel Steinberg, and most of the other legislative Dems who have spoken out in favor of Arnold’s cuts run unopposed as well so they have no excuse. I’m honestly baffled by their behavior. They have bought into the claim that voters voted down the special election package because we only want cuts and don’t want any new taxes. That’s completely absurd!

      I agree that an oil extraction tax is the best place to start. Every other oil producing state taxes extraction, including Alaska and Texas, so this isn’t just a “liberal” idea.

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