Taxes are going up, and all across California and the United States, people are becoming more vocal in their feelings about how government is working, and how it’s spending tax dollars.
Two different, although not wholly separate battles have caught the attention of Santa Clarita residents; the federal budget and the state budget.
Both call for tax increases, although they differ in who foots the extra bill. On the federal level the rules have already been changed, increasing taxes for a select group of Americans. Also, new proposals continue to pop up as the economic conditions worsen.
On the state level, taxes have been temporarily increased by the legislature. Proposition 1A, appearing on the May 19th special election, could expand those increases through 2012.
Our U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon wrote an editorial decrying tax increases, and explaining his opinions of the federal plan of action. McKeon also charged constituents to oppose any form of tax increases, including California’s Prop 1A. You can read his editorial by clicking here.
But California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger disagrees. During an “Ask the Governor” webcast on Tuesday, he said that the tax increases were absolutely necessary, because cuts alone were not able to sufficiently solve the state’s deficit.
One Californian submitted a question via Twitter to the governor during the webcast which asked why the government couldn’t just cut the budget by 10% instead of raising taxes.
“I think it’s very important for people to know that we cut 10% of our budget last year, and we have cut 10% of our budget this year. On top of that we have cut $16 billion all together,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “So, tremendous cuts were made. But we had a $42 billion dollar problem.”
The California state budget totals about $100 billion.
The Governor said that he constantly fields such questions, and recalled many times when people asked him why the state just couldn’t layoff 100,000 workers.
“What that would mean, laying off 100,000 state employees…you would have to layoff all the police officers, or you just close down the prisons and have all the rapists and murderers roaming around on your streets. Or layoff 100,000 teachers, which means you have to close down 1/3 of the schools. And they hear that and say ‘Oh no, I don’t want to do that.’ So it’s important that people are engaged and that they ask those questions so I can explain that yes, we have cut twice in the budget. This coming fiscal year there will be more than 10% cuts. That’s why it’s important for those initiatives to pass, so we can pay back education.”
The aforementioned initiatives refer to Propositions 1A through 1F.
“I think with the combination of tax increases and with the cuts that we’re making, and by certain sacrifices at the state level, I think we will make it through the tough times,” said Schwarzenegger, who admitted that his techniques don’t seem to fall into line with his generally conservative ideals. “Of course this is totally against my party as you know, and Republican principals. I was all about giving money back to the people and to businesses. But all of a sudden you get caught in a situation where you have to raise revenues because otherwise you just have to close down everything and people wouldn’t like that because there is such a need for government now to step in and to help people.”
California’s 2008-2009 budget was the latest in the state’s history, due to the fact that the legislature was unable to garner the necessary number of Republican votes to achieve a 2/3 majority vote, required in California to pass a budget or any revenue increase. One question during the webcast asked the Governor if he thinks the requirement should be changed.
“The question is not really the 2/3 vote, the question really is…you have to pull back and say to yourself, ‘when you look at the whole political scene, isn’t it too difficult to get anything done in California? And isn’t it because the redistricting has been done by politicians 10 years ago, and they’ve carved out the district lines in such a way where it locks Democrats and Republicans in districts, and in order to win you’ve got to be way to the right on the Republican side or way to the left on the Democratic side.’ So people come to Sacramento too far apart to get together and compromise in the middle. And that is a systemic problem.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed many other issues relating to California politics, economics and more in his webcast. To view the program, click here and view the video titled “Ask the Governor Webchat.”