The November ballot has two tax increase measure on it – Gov. Brown’s and wealthy liberal activist Molly Munger’s. Neither one is necessary. Either one will drive more people and businesses out of this state, keep unemployment in double-digit territory and not bring in anywhere near the revenue either measure predicts.
California’s projected budget deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year is $15 billion – 16 percent of the budget.
Consider this: The state’s “rainy day” reserve fund is $8.8 billion. An analysis by the San Jose Mercury-News July 26 noted that there is a $2.3 billion more in cash reserves than departments reported to the state Finance Department. The most notorious of those, uncovered by the Sacramento Bee, being $54 million in the state Parks Department about which its director was uniformed until it came out in the Bee. The scandal was that the department had shut down parks and had recently concluded negotiations with nonprofit groups to help run and fund various state parks.
Some of the reserves noted by the Mercury-News included the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund with $113.2 million more than reported; Indian Gaming Distribution Fund for $7.9 million more than reported; the Children’s Health and Human Services Special Fund for $30.1 million more than reported; State Court Facilities Construction Fund for $26.85 million more than reported; and the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund for $12.5 million more than reported.
Gov. Jerry Brown has done a good job of reducing the number of cell phones and state vehicles. We’d like to see him tackle these underreported funds and designate them as available for general emergency use in case of fires, floods, earthquakes and volcanic explosions.
With State Controller’s Office reporting $11.1 billion in cash reserves, it’s clear that the state has room to maneuver on its deficit without raising taxes. The General Fund is $91.3 billion. With $11.1 billion in cash reserves that equals 12 percent. In tight economic times that ought to be pared down to 5-6 percent. That knocks approximately $5 billion off the $15 billion deficit. There is no reason the Legislature can’t find savings equivalent to 10 percent of the General Fund. As El Dorado County Supervisor Jack Sweeney has said, it’s time to decide between what’s nice to have and what’s necessary to have. We don’t think the state has pared out all the nice-to-haves.
A tax increase isn’t needed.