SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) - Republican state lawmakers on Thursday released their own proposal to close California's remaining $15.4 billion budget deficit, proposing to cut the pay for state employees, reduce programs further for the needy and take funds intended to help young children and the mentally ill.
They contend there is no need to extend recent increases to the personal income, sales and vehicles taxes, as Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown want.
KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:
Instead, Assembly Republicans proposed deeper cuts on services to the poor, elderly and disabled. They want state workers to take another pay cut equal to 15 percent of their salaries. And they suggest raiding one-time funds intended for early childhood development and mental health.
"The budget approach that we outline today represents the common sense solutions that we believe can be embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike in enacting a reasonable no-tax increase, budget compromise," Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway wrote in a letter Thursday to Assembly Speaker John Perez.
Perez had challenged Republicans to craft their own budget plan after they balked at Democrats' plan to extend tax increases.
GOP lawmakers were getting ahead of the Democratic governor, who is scheduled to release an updated version of his budget Monday. Brown wants to extend the current sales, income and vehicle tax to help balance the budget.
"Very smart move," responded former San Francisco mayor and longtime state politician Willie Brown, "on the part of the Republicans. Ordinarily they usually stand back and wait to counterpunch. In this case, they really have opted to move forward and do something they've never done and they are the centerpiece of the dialogue now."
Republicans are predicting that an improving economy should be enough to maintain current education funding levels.
"It's interesting what they've really done here," added KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier. "If you look at this proposal and why it's a real challenge for Jerry Brown and the Democrats it's that Jerry Brown has said that we are going to do everything we can to protect education. And in his first round of budget cuts he held education out, he said no cuts to education. But what he was saying all along was if I don't get the tax extensions then I'm going to have to cut the education, K-12. And that's what he's been saying up and down the state and now the Republicans are coming in and going no, what we do is we're going to protect education as well and we're going to shift it and just make those other cuts that you were talking about more severe."
Some of their ideas have previously been rejected by Democrats, who have majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Republicans also suggest transitioning to electronic court reporting to save an estimated $700 million and propose reducing prison medical costs by $400 million by contracting out the service. The state's prison medical system is currently under a receivership overseen by the federal courts.
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