The governor of California released his last official state budget proposal May 14, just a few weeks before Mayor Gavin Newsom releases what might be his last official city budget proposal. The guv's is truly ugly, so bad it's almost hard to imagine what would happen if it passes. The mayor's may not be a whole lot different.
Here's why Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget is so hypocritical. In his message, Schwarzenegger said that "employment remains the biggest source of concern" as the state emerges from the Great Recession. Then he moved to guarantee more unemployment.
I remember when a Democratic Assembly Member from San Francisco first proposed the idea that would later become the philosophical basis for the CALWORKS program. Art Agnos, who went on to serve as mayor of this city, suggested that it wasn't such a bad idea to make welfare recipients work as long as the state offered education, training, and, most important, affordable child care. A lot of us complained about it, warning that it would never get fully funded; it costs a lot up front to provide the services that allow long-term unemployed to transition into the workforce. Ultimately, however, most states have now created some sort of welfare-to-work program.
Now Schwarzenegger wants that completely eliminated. Along with all state-subsidized child care. So how are low-income people with kids supposed to get a job?
They're not. They're supposed to become a permanent underclass in a rich state. That's exactly what the governor is talking about destroying opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people, keeping them from joining in the productivity boom we're going to need to get the economy going again, forcing them to live a third-world existence, at a massive cost to the state's future. All to avoid modest taxes on the rich. If that's not class warfare, I don't know what is.
So how are we going to respond in San Francisco? Will Newsom's budget the one he will have to answer for as he runs for lieutenant governor be cuts only? Or does he have the courage to tell the truth that the only way the state and the city are ever going to emerge from this recession is if the folks on top of the economic pyramid chip in a little more? Well, I asked his press person, Tony Winnicker, and here's what he said: "The mayor's budget will not rely on taxes to achieve balance."
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