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Californians Far More Concerned About Budget Cuts Than Taxes

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 10:51:18 AM PST

During this whole multi-year budget season, the Republicans have consistently been fighting to put the reduction of taxes as the top issue on the table. And Steve Poizner's "10-10-10" Plan calls for a 10 percent cut in taxes as well as a 10 percent cut in spending. Of course, we've cut far more than 10 percent in each of the last few budget years, so his plan doesn't carry much meaning, but the sentiment is still there.
But, like so many issues facing California, the Republicans are out of touch with the people they are supposed to be representing. In a poll by the Datamar firm (PDF), taxes as an issue didn't even rate. It just got lumped in with "all other issues."  Meanwhile, "budget cuts" rated as the second leading issue among all groups except Republican respondents. (They're still hung up on the immigration issue, despite the fact that we are still in the middle of a slow, if not nil, immigration flow on our southern border.)

Of course, the economy is still front and center, as "jobs" and "economy" could conceivably be pushed together in terms of responses.  But, as voters are looking around the state, they see the effect budget cuts are having. Transit and roads programs are being slashed, you get charged for 911 calls, and the social safety net is falling apart. Workers across the state are falling into semi-permanent states of unemployment that just become harder and harder to break out of.

PhotobucketSo, why then are we still arguing? Why not fix the budget? Well, the Republicans have played their hand well. It's always easier to be a party of no, and as well as they've played that game in DC, they do it better in Sacramento.  Because despite the minority's rejection of even the budgets proposed by their own governor, they are attributed a relatively small share of the blame.

SInce 1978, the Republicans have almost always been in the minority in the Legislature, but have wielded that minority as a club to make some serious and far reaching cuts to the system.  In addition to commanding the governor's position most of that time, they have been able to bully Democrats into adopting budgets that would never be approved under any majority vote system. It has skewed the actual state of the government and

Yet by allowing just the stray vote or two to cross the lines, they keep their names out of the filth of the actual budget and can blame the Democrats for the perverse effects of a system gone astray. Thus, you get this graph to the left, where the Dems, despite there willingness to give and give to the Governor and the Legislative Republicans being seen as the source of problems. Despite all facts to the contrary, no matter how many ways you can show historically what the supermajority has done to the state, it doesn't matter. You end up with this garbage.

Of course, given our string of pr debacles, nobody should be surprised to see that nearly 70% of Republicans blame the Democrats, while only about 30% of Democrats blame the Republicans in the Legislature. We have simply failed to tell our story. And at this point, it's not even clear if Californians are really wiling to do what is necessary to create a working and sustainable government.

That being said, it is imperative that we not only continue to fight for the majority of Californians who are more concerned with cuts than taxes, but we frame it as such. Every day, Democrats need to take the fight away from a frame as a fight with the Republicans and transform it into a populist crusade for the rights and values of the majority of Californians.

Brian Leubitz :: Californians Far More Concerned About Budget Cuts Than Taxes
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Yep (5.00 / 1)
It's interesting to note that Whitman isn't talking overtly about taxes in her campaign. She's instead focusing on mass layoffs of state staff to fix the budget, and on education, and not the Reagan-Bush-Schwarzenegger plan of "elect me and you'll get a tax cut" or even "elect me to reduce the unfair tax burden." Steve Poizner is trying that exact move and it is so far getting him nowhere.

The California electorate has bigger concerns than taxes. Obviously taxes are part of the picture, but the polling seems borne out by what's happening on the ground.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

The service cuts are costing people money (5.00 / 1)
Anyone with a child in UC, CSU, or community colleges is getting sticker shock.

Anyone with a child in school is being hit up for more fundraising and is having to put in more of their own time and money for services that used to be available (like transportation). They need more child care to match with shorter days and shorter school years.

Anyone doing construction is being hit by furlough days creating delays which can cost thousands of dollars waiting for an inspection or a permit.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

indeed (5.00 / 1)
my tuition has gone up 300% since i started grad school. funny how that doesn't count as a tax hike.

[ Parent ]
You're going to have a tough time convincing Californians to pay more in taxes (1.00 / 2)
When their sales, gas, and income tax rates are all the highest in the nation. Just saying.

when you look at the overall tax burden (6.50 / 2)
we're at the bottom of the top 5th, hovering between #9 and #11, meaning $3,154 per capita tax revenue. leaving property tax out is dishonest.

[ Parent ]
Let's close the tax loopholes enjoyed by corporate interests and the wealthiest among us. (5.00 / 1)
The California Democracy Act would end the legislative "2/3 rules" and thereby eliminate the means by which a small minority of right-wing legislators -- who put the interests of corporations and the very wealthiest among us over the vast majority of those of us who call California home, who place the budgeting process into a state of gridlock year after year, and  who block funding for education, social services and infrastructure we all need -- have done just that for more than thirty years now.

Restore Democracy and the Principle of Majority Rule to California Governance

   Our proposition is simple - one sentence, fourteen words:

"All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote."

To learn more or to help get this GENUINELY (no special interest money is backing this effort for reasons I'm sure you can imagine) grassroots supported initiative by signing the petition yourself, please go to http://www.ca4democracy.com/

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