Dems vow to raise taxes on richest Californians to pay for education.
Thursday, June 2, 2005
When Democratic lawmakers announced their alternative to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s spending plan earlier this week, they stressed that it contained a promise to fully fund education.
Speaker Fabian Núñez and Budget Committee Chair John Laird, who represents the Monterey Bay area, unveiled the Assembly Democrats’ 2005-2006 budget proposal at a middle school in Sacramento Tuesday, May 31. At the same school a year ago, Schwarzenegger made his now-infamous promise to teachers: If schools took a $2 billion cut to help balance the 2004-2005 budget, he said, then he would give schools all the funding that they are owed under Prop. 98 in 2005-2006. In two budget proposals so far, he has not done that.
“The Governor broke his promise,” Núñez said, “But we plan to help him keep it. We will not shortchange our schools of the resources they need.”
The Democrats say their spending plan protects Prop. 98, the voter-approved measure that guarantees about 42 percent of the state general fund for K-12 schools and community colleges. That totals around $3.1 billion in school funding for fiscal years ‘05 and ‘06.
Democrats say they plan to pay for education by raising the tax bracket for California’s wealthiest citizens.
While attacking the governor for underfunding education, however, the Assembly proposal does share some similarities with the governor’s revised spending plan, which he unveiled in May. Both include $1.3 billion for transportation, and would bring back tax credits and other programs for seniors. (The governor’s original budget proposal, released in January, would have axed billions of dollars earmarked for traffic projects and social services.)
But where the governor’s budget would take federal dollars intended for Social Security increases and put the money into the state’s general fund, the Democrats’ proposal would pass the money on to low-income seniors and disabled Californians.
The Assembly budget also rejects the governor’s cuts to in-home caretakers for the disabled and the elderly.
“Overall, we met out policy goals,” Laird said. “We have a more financially sound budget. We lessened out-year deficit, we lowered borrowing and we removed some of the biggest risks in the budget,” Laird added.
The Democrats’ alternative now moves to the two-house conference committee, also chaired by Laird, to resolve differences between the Assembly and Senate spending proposals.