How bad could it get if the state of California adopts an “all cuts” budget? In a word, brutal.
San Luis Obispo County government alone could be out as much as $20 million, according to a report to be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
To be clear, that’s under an absolutely worst-case scenario.
For a $20 million loss to occur, the state would have to 1) not extend tax increases and 2) stick counties with a host of new responsibilities without giving them any reimbursement.
We don’t believe even the state of California is that brazen.
However, as long as Republicans in the Legislature continue to balk at the idea of extending increases in sales and income taxes and vehicle license fees, we have to face the real possibility that local agencies will lose millions in revenue, on top of hits they’ve already taken.
That alone would be a huge blow for local governments.
One example: If the vehicle license fee increase is not extended, the county’s public safety programs will lose $2.9 million.
Here’s the breakdown:
The Sheriff’s Department would lose nearly $1.3 million that funds a program that tracks registered sex offenders; a methamphetamine enforcement team; a rural crime unit; and a rural crime prevention specialist. Seven positions would have to be cut: five deputies, one senior deputy and a crime prevention specialist.
The Probation Department would also take a $1.3 million hit, resulting in the loss of 14 employees assigned to 11 different programs, including juvenile drug court, an Atascadero truancy prevention project and supervision of adult drug offenders. Highly successful programs staffed by trained volunteers, such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), also would lose funding and might have to shut down.
The District Attorney’s Office would lose more than $200,000 in funds for special programs targeting felony sexual assaults, elder abuse and rural crime. While some of the cuts could be absorbed initially, the office could eventually lose one deputy district attorney.
Again, this is just one agency. Others have yet to share their “doomsday” scenarios — in part because they’ve been too busy dealing with the cuts that are already coming.
In Sacramento, both political parties have now introduced plans to deal with the remaining $15 billion shortfall.
The governor’s plan, as we know, gives voters the opportunity to extend tax and fee increases, thereby avoiding more painful cuts for education, law enforcement and other public services.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, due for release on Monday, could offer some changes, although according to a Los Angeles Times report, the plan still seeks tax increases.
Assembly Republicans unveiled their own spending plan last week — an all-cuts budget that leaves education intact, but imposes an additional $1.3 billion in cuts on low-income, elderly and disabled Californians.
The plan also is built on the assumption that tax receipts will continue to go up. That’s a nice assumption — and one that we hope will come true — but it’s nothing to take to the bank.
While there is room for compromise, we believe the final budget must include some extension of tax increases, whether it’s for three, four or five years.
Otherwise, we will see truly devastating cuts in some sectors, be it education; health and human services; public safety — or a combination of all of those. We don’t find that an acceptable option, and we believe the majority of Californians feel the same way.
More than ever, we must demand the opportunity to vote on extending tax increases due to expire in July.
Don’t wait to find out exactly how much worse it can get.
We strongly urge readers to contact state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian. Let them know that we must have an equitable solution that will keep our deputies and probation officers on the streets; will provide our elderly and disabled residents with an adequate level of care to ensure their health and safety; and will continue to invest in the future by providing students of all ages with an affordable, quality education.
How to reach your lawmakers
Sen. Sam Blakeslee
San Luis Obispo office:1104 Palm St., San Luis Obispo 93401; telephone 805-549-3784.
Sacramento office address: State Capitol, Room 4070, Sacramento 95814; telephone 916-651-4015.
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian
San Luis Obispo office: 1150 Osos Street, Suite 207, San Luis Obispo 93401; telephone 805-549-3381.
Sacramento office:State Capitol, Room 2016,Sacramento 95814; telephone 916-319-2033.