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Community Commentary: State must make cuts to get budget in line

January 26, 2011|By Jim Silva

California's taxpayers are under attack once again. Gov. Jerry Brown announced his proposal for the 2011-12 budget year, and if you pay taxes, it's time to take cover.

The governor's proposed budget includes $12 billion in tax increases on working families and businesses. His plan is to ask voters to approve increases in sales, income and vehicle licensing taxes — the same tax increases voters struck down less than two years ago.

The governor's goal is to have a budget "framework" in place soon so voters can see what the budget might look like should they approve his tax increases. What this means is that the state Legislature will not take any meaningful votes on any spending cuts or spending reductions before the results of the special election are in.

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Thus, there are no guarantees that the governor or the Legislature will agree to any specific reductions, even if taxes are approved. Brown is essentially saying to voters, "Trust us."

Nothing personal, Governor, but trusting the majority party with taxpayers' pocketbooks is a recipe for disaster.

Republicans must stand united against allowing these tax increases to even get to the ballot. Anyone who has followed state government for any period of time knows the Legislature is loath to cut any government program.

To ask voters to approve tax increases before the governor and the Legislature are willing to make necessary spending reductions is extremely unwise. Furthermore, California ranks behind only New York as the highest-taxed state in the nation. Why should anyone believe that another tax increase will solve any of our state's fiscal woes?

Voters loudly and clearly rejected these taxes less than two years ago. Since that time, government has not shown that it is willing to deal with the budget deficit in any meaningful way. Instead, the tradition of papering over the problem has continued.

I firmly believe that government must learn to live within its means, and until it does so, there is no reason for voters to believe that an increase in taxes will do anything to address the state's chronic budget deficits in the long term.

I believe the state must make the necessary cuts to get the state's finances in line. Until the state is willing to show Californians it is serious about living within its means, voters should not even have to consider raising taxes on themselves to pay for programs we cannot afford.

JIM SILVA is an assemblyman covering the 67th District, which includes Huntington Beach.

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