California is a Democratic controlled state; in the Senate there are 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans, in the Assembly there are 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans, the Governor and most state offices are Democrats.
In spite of these majorities, the Republicans won the budget battle of 2011. They got a cut in the sales tax by 1 %, and a cut in the vehicle license fee. The result will be further cuts in the Univ. of California, further cuts in the California State University system, and further cuts ( called deferrals) in the K-12 schools.
California is presently 47th. out of the 50 states in per pupil expenditures, we are among the very poor in funding our schools. In prior years, as described by the California Budget project,
“Lawmakers cut the overall annual funding level for K-12 public schools by $6.3 billion, from $50.3 billion in 2007-08 to $44.1 billion in 2009-10.3 Lawmakers cut schools’ general purpose dollars as well as funds earmarked for specific school programs, often referred to as categoricals.”
What remains? The proposed budget uses overly generous estimates of future tax incomes. If the projects fall short, there will be mandated further cuts to the universities and to k-12 education.
By imposing this mostly cuts budgets, the economic crisis flows down to produce cuts in police, fire protection and local budgets.
The Democratic leadership will not admit the truth. They lost. Jerry Brown claimed he could negotiate with reasonable Republicans. He failed.
The school budget crisis was not caused by the Democrats. Finance capital collapse and theft in housing and on Wall Street produced this crisis, not police officers, firemen, nurses, librarians and teachers. The recession took sales taxes and property taxes which normally fund safety and public services. Now Wall Street has recovered, but the states and the cities and counties are left with the destruction. The radical, anti tax groups who control the Republican Party stop us from passing a budget and starting toward recovery.
The Republican budget plan is to cut taxes and thus force cuts in schools, police, fire, and public safety. They have won.
What do you want? I want a city without gangs, with police and firemen on the streets, with a probation department to divert young people from prison, with parks and libraries open. This could be achieved by passing a reasonable state budget, and a local increase in sales taxes. We need to pay taxes for the services we need.
These cuts are not necessary. The legislature passed horrendous budget cuts in the Spring, and they are about to vote on even more cuts. The Spring 2011 cut funds for students, for the disabled, for the ill, the unemployed- all to protect the rich. There are funds for the budget, but the rich and the powerful do not pay their taxes.
Here is a list of available revenue sources.
The right wing is playing its usual role: Race-bait and attack immigrants and the poor to justify cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations. Push laws that disenfranchise young voters. Block legislation so that people come to expect nothing from their government except grief. Demand arrests of the undocumented and new fences at the border. Shift the economic crisis to the states to crack down on health services for women who can't otherwise afford care and to families who can’t afford to feed their own children. Blame teachers and unions for failures in education caused by childhood poverty. Ignore the foreclosure crisis and the jobs crisis.
The right wing viewpoint has won another victory in the California budget crisis- even though Democrats control the legislature. It is long past time for the various progressive forces in the U.S. , each of which is being crushed by casino capitalism, to work together to defend democracy. This requires unions, teachers, academics, Democratic Party activists and others to recognize that what they have in common is the need for a powerful united front to defend against the right wing onslaughts.