Budget Plan B

Earlier today, Governor Brown held a press availability with Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. We reported on it on Twitter, but here’s more.

The big news was that Governor Brown recognized that the Republican legislators, due to their “religious reluctance to consider a budget solution that included revenues,” were simply never going to agree to a budget deal. And as a result, they were no longer looking at a special election this year.

Rather, they would balance the budget this year and make progress on the structural deficit, and place a revenue measure on the ballot for November 2012 to address the rest of the structural deficit.

The Sacramento Bee and KQED have details. The new budget package does include tough cuts, on top of the drastic cuts made earlier this year that included severe hits to Medi-Cal and other health and human services.

In the new proposal, if anticipated projected revenues don’t come through, additional cuts would be “triggered.” Many of those cuts are in education (including cutting school days), but $200 million are slated for health and human services as well.

Health advocates will remember that awful cuts, including the elimination of Medi-Cal benefits–including the elimination of dental, vision, and a variety of other covered services–were the subject of a “trigger” in 2009–and the trigger was “pulled.”

These additional cuts would not have to be contemplated if we found a way to extend current tax levels, which would have maintained enough revenue to balance the budget. Instead, later this week, certain taxes will expire and blow a hole in our budget that we’ll spend the next two years–if not more–trying to grapple with. Ugh.

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