Yesterday I shared with you the Los Angeles Times interactive proposal that allows you to examine the current state budget for California, the designated areas to be considered for increases, cuts, elimination, and taxation, and then it gives you the chance to create your own proposal. After breaking down each category, sharing with you the options, and giving you the opportunity to research further and make sound decisions, I allowed your mind to consider what I would propose.
How many of you think that I created a greater deficit? How many of you think I left the budget alone and considered it reasonable? How many of you think that I reduced the deficit slightly but not enough to experience a significant impact? Which of you believe that I created a surplus for the state?
Let me just say that I was surprised by the results. Balancing the budget is not as easy as one would think. I wouldn’t want the responsibility of taking care of the state budget. I tip my hat to those in position who have this daunting task.
So here’s what happened when I started working the numbers and trying to figure out the best solution for California’s huge deficit:
Here’s my pie-chart. Do you notice any differences than the current numbers and percentages for California?
I actually created a surplus of $269,950,000.
- I maintained the current funding level for K-12 education which increased the deficit to $30.2 billion. Our children and our nation cannot afford budget cuts. Period.
- I cut health and social services by $970,650,000 (reducing welfare services by $966 million and $4.65 million in drug and alcohol programs)
- I refused to cut anything for colleges and universities- students and faculty have suffered too much too long, and closing campuses in my opinion makes us less competitive in this global economy.
- I cut $932,000,000 in public safety (cutting $816 million by releasing some prisoners, making the $106 million cut for illegal immigrant prisoners, and $10 million towards the COPS program)
- I cut $27.3 million in the ‘Other’ category (all by cutting the state legislature’s budget slightly…by $27.3 million)
- I increased taxes by $28,540,000,000
- Raising the gas tax to a little over $0.25 (an impact of $4.8 billion)
- I continued the temporary tax hikes (an impact of $9.4 billion)
- I raised the alcohol tax to $0.30 per drink (an impact of $4.3 billion)
- I raised the vehicle license fee back to where it was (impact = $4.3 billion)
- I taxed cigarette smokers again. This time by $3.00 per pack. I’m helping smokers and victims of second-hand smoke. Come on let’s work together to live longer, healthier lives. Sorry tobacco companies! (total impact is $2.028 billion)
- I hiked up taxes again for high-income earners. 10% increase for those earning more than $300k annually, and 11% for $600k per year earners. (total impact is $1.8 billion). Let me apologize to my friends and family members who fall into this category.
- I imposed a 9.9% oil severance tax on crude oil pumped from California land. (impact is $1.5 billion)
- I didn’t repeal the business tax break that allows businesses to determine their business tax formula annually.
- I didn’t tax Social Security Income
- I installed 500 automated speeding cameras throughout California (impact is $412 million). This one was kind of an “iffy” situation because I have seen plenty of accidents caused by the flashing speeding cameras- but then again, if people weren’t speeding; running lights; failing to yield to oncoming traffic; resisting being the culprit in a hit-and-run; or doing the “California Roll” where a driver yields but never truly stops (they perform more of a “roll” with their wheels)- then maybe more accidents could be avoided.
Total it up and it’s a surplus of $269,950,000! Pretty impressive don’t you think? Also quite scary to imagine, because you won’t truly know the impact of your decisions until long after you made them. Some things seem like common sense decisions- make them quick, fast and in a hurry. While other decisions took a great deal of pondering and contemplation. I had to ask myself how and who does this impact, and by what extent does one group of people feel the impact more than others? There was no way I was going to negatively impact our youth, students and schools, the elderly, the blind, and the disabled. But it all still required a balancing act…doing right and doing good for individuals while also trying to do the same for the collective state. What a task!
To see it all mapped out check out my proposal below (hopefully it will still reflect my numbers from yesterday)
You can also compare the current budget (check out the budget overview), my proposed budget, and your proposed budget to Governor Brown’s proposal and see how they differ and favor. This exercise should help you to appreciate the big business of government, running a state, and the process of balancing a gigantic budget such as California’s.
Maybe we will stop throwing around our insults and our, “I’d do this…” comments so freely…just maybe!
Natasha L. Foreman, MBA
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.
All charts, facts, figures, and statistics were provided by the Los Angeles Times and its reporters and researchers, as taken from: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/budget/