Left-wing Democrats in California are demanding that Governor Jerry Brown increase spending as he attempts to keep the state budget in the black. The battle allows rank-and-file Democrats to pose as champions of various issues dear to their constituents while Brown can be seen as a fiscal moderate.
Although recent victories by leftists include subsidized healthcare for low-income undocumented immigrant children and spending almost a billion dollars more on higher education and social programs than Brown wanted, they have other grandiose plans to raise spending.
Last month, the legislators passed a budget $2 billion over what Brown wanted, but ultimately capitulated to Brown’s vision.
In response, Brown transferred roughly $780 million to higher education, childcare and other services. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins told Reuters, “It hasn’t necessarily been easy. We need to be pragmatic about what we are able to do.” She and Senate leader Kevin de Leon pushed Brown for a new tax credit for low-income Californians; he finally agreed, adding it to his mid-year budget proposal in May. Atkins has urged Brown for funding for affordable housing programs.
Of course, Brown may pose as a fiscal moderate, but as Tom Del Beccaro pointed out in 2013, “ …to use Jerry Brown’s own words, California has a “wall of debt,” which doesn’t include unfunded pension and medical liability–and that wall of debt is NOT included in the budget. The total amount of that debt is somewhere in the $27 billion range and includes over $10 billion owed to the federal government.” The Economist wrote last month, “In 1950, 10% of California’s fiscal take came from income tax; by 2014 64% did. The Golden State depends too much on its fine crop of plutocrats, and its funds rise and fall with their fortunes.”