It’s still not clear whether Californians will be voting on the governor’s budget proposal in June or November — or at all.
Judging by the list of Republican demands released late Friday — and the initial negative reaction from the governor’s office — it appears a compromise may still be far away.
We should be outraged that politicians can’t agree on something so seemingly simple. Instead, we appear to be losing interest.
According to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, only 51 percent of Californians now favor the governor’s idea of holding a special election on the budget, compared to 66 percent in January.
Support for the governor’s proposal to extend temporary taxes has waned as well — 46 percent now favor the tax extensions, compared to 53 percent in January.
That could be due, at least in part, to reluctance of state officials to tell us what might happen if the temporary tax increases aren’t extended.
The governor continues to speak in vague terms: “It’s going to be much, much worse if we cannot get the vote of the people and the tax extensions,” he said Thursday, even as he signed $11.2 billion in cuts.
That first round of cuts is severe enough.
We will see tuition go up $10 per unit for community college students; fewer in-home services for elderly, sick and disabled people; higher co-pays for low-income residents when they visit the doctor; an 8 percent reduction in already meager benefits for low-income families receiving aid through CalWORKs.
And here’s one cut we’re having a particularly tough time wrapping our brains around: The state will no longer provide subsidized child care for 11- and 12-year-olds.
Not so long ago, the state subsidized child care for children as old as 13, but 13-year-olds were booted from the program in 2003-04.
Now California can’t afford day care for 11- and 12-year olds either? When will it end?
We recognize that cuts must be made — and as we’ve said many times, no program or department should be completely exempt. But the reductions we’ve seen thus far fall especially hard on the most vulnerable populations — children, young adults, disabled people, poor families. And bad as that is, the situation will only worsen if tax extensions are not approved.
As we said, officials have been largely silent on specifics, but they have made it clear that K-12 education will lose funding, and there will be additional cuts for higher education as well.
We strongly believe that advocates of public education deserve the opportunity to lobby on behalf of tax extensions that could prevent further cuts to our public schools, as well as to other worthwhile programs.
We won’t waste our breath asking those Republicans who signed a no-tax pledge — including local Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian — to reconsider their opposition to placing the tax extensions on the ballot.
It may prove equally ineffective to pin our hopes to more reasonable Republicans like Sen. Sam Blakeslee, though we aren’t giving up.
Even if the deadline passes for a June 7 vote, we will continue to press for an election.
We’ve already seen what the first round of cuts will mean to California. We don’t know if we can stomach a second.