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Power to the people is Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach to rebuilding a state with a $25 billion deficit. As the governor began his state of the state address on January 31st, he made no misconceptions about our current condition stating that it is “a crisis that is real and unprecedented.”
The most recent summary of the Chabot–Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD) budget proposal for 2011-12 puts the crisis clearly. A decrease of $400 million in funding for community colleges (6.8% Budget reduction.) Increase in fees from $26 per unit to $36 per unit. $1.5 billion cut to CalWORKs (although no cuts are expected for the community college CalWORKs program.) The CLPCCD estimates a budget deficit of $6,930,928 from both state reduction as well as District structural deficit.
While recognizing the uphill road ahead, Gov. Brown strongly declared that it was the people who should ultimately decide what is best for California. “Voters are clearly telling us that our state and nation are going in the wrong direction.” He affirmed that no long-term legislation that will affect the people living in California would be passed without a vote from the people. In order to reiterate his point, he read Article 2 Section 1 of the California Constitution, which reads; “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”
Although solemn at times having to deliver the reality of our current failures, Gov. Jerry Brown seemed optimistic about the future. “My intention is to make California again a leader in job creation, renewable energy and state of the art efficiency, innovation of all kinds, and a solid primary and secondary education. Our Universities are world renowned and I intend to see that they continue to enjoy the respect of students and scholars throughout the world.” The governor pleaded for ideas and creative input from both parties that will see us out of this situation asking to put party loyalty aside and focus on our unity as Californians.
Mostly serious in his delivery, Jerry Brown also presented his lightheartedness and humor as he joked with the members of the chamber. At times he encouraged them to clap at certain elements of his speech and pointed out that he is more than willing to work with Republicans.
There are many who are not completely happy with Gov. Brown’s current plans. Tobey Kaplan, an instructor here at Chabot, voiced her concern over the governor’s plans to stop continuing the funding of city redevelopment agencies. “These agencies are designed to improve neighborhoods!” Kaplan also stressed that she would like to see more money given to the CA Arts Council, a program Brown signed into action in 1976.
Whether or not we are happy with Gov. Brown’s plans, one thing is certain. The road ahead will be tough and deeply impact all of us. We can however take a positive viewpoint. “Times of crisis open the door for creativity,” stated physics and astronomy instructor Timothy Dave, and we will absolutely need everyone’s creativity to succeed.
Posted in News
Posted on 31 January 2011.
Almost all state programs are facing austerity measures
New California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom were sworn in January 3rd, marking a Democratic sweep at the top of the California political ladder. Brown, who has been both Oakland Mayor and State Attorney General, and Newsom, formerly Mayor of San Francisco, were joined by former San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who became both the state’s first female and first African-American Attorney General.
Brown emerged the victor in the Governor’s race last November after defeating Republican candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who spent almost $150 million dollars of her own money in a failed bid to win the Governorship. Brown ran a masterful campaign on a fraction of the money that Whitman poured into hers. He successfully painted his opponent as not only out-of-touch with Californian voters with the aid of some crafty ads showing Whitman and Schwarzenegger parroting GOP talking points, but also lacking the experience required to lift the Golden State out of the doldrums. Fearing a Governator redux, the voters agreed with Brown, who now assumes the highest office in the state for the third time after serving as Governor from 1975-1983.
Brown’s focus now turns to the formidable $25 billion budget shortfall plaguing the Golden State. It appears that slashing funding for public services and an extension of tax hikes on automobiles, income, and purchases will be the order of the day, and Californians can expect some serious compromises in order to get the budget under control. Brown’s $84.6 billion dollar general fund spending plan will be comprised of approximately half tax increases, half spending cuts in order to get the budget shortfall closed within eighteen months.
It’s not much of a surprise that higher education faces steep cuts: $500 million from both the UC and California State schools, and an additional $400 million from community colleges, which amounts to some twenty percent of financial support from the state. Chabot students can expect their cost-per-unit to rise from $26 to $36, which should account for an extra $110 million in revenues.
Medi-CAL also faces a nearly $2 billion reduction in services, including a cap on doctor visits, the establishing of co-payments for doctor visits and emergency room services, and a ten percent reduction in payments to physicians, pharmacies, and clinics. Elsewhere, Californians can expect funding from everything from CAL-Works welfare-to-work programs, to county fairs and state parks to be slashed.
Among the more controversial aspects of Brown’s proposal would be the elimination of state redevelopment projects to help balance the budget, including Alameda County’s own agency, which helps fund a number of local projects in
unincorporated Alameda County, such as a proposed community center and fire station in Cherryland. Landscaping improvements along East 14th Street in Ashland would also be threatened by these cuts. Should Brown’s budget proposal pass, the agency would shut its doors effective July 1st, although projects that are already underway, such as the San Lorenzo Library redevelopment, will be completed as planned.
The cuts even extend to Sacramento. Brown announced that his own office budget would be cut by 25%, and asked state agencies to turn in taxpayer-funded automobiles that were non-essential to state business, as well as halting all purchases on new state vehicles immediately. If state legislators approve Brown’s financial plan by March, a special election will be held in June that will ask voters to extend tax hikes that were passed in 2009 on purchases, incomes, and vehicles for another five years.
One thing is for certain, times are tough all over and Brown is being evenhanded with his cuts.
Posted in News, Politics