» The Not So Golden State: Back in January of this year, California state officials were anticipating a $9.2 billion budget shortfall for 2012 — an enormous deficit, though considerably less than the $26 billion that faced Governor Jerry Brown when he took over in 2010. Brown announced,while revealing the startling new figure, that he’ll be placing an initiative on the November ballot to raise the sales tax by .25%, and add an income tax surcharge for wealthy Californians. If the initiative fails, expect deeper than anticipated spending cuts to follow.
» Good news for Democrats: GOP leadership has indicated that they’ll pass a 10-month extension of the payroll tax without any offsets in spending. Democrats had wanted to balance the tax cut, in part, with higher taxes on the rich; Republicans wanted to do so, in part, with cuts to unemployment benefits. Ultimately, they couldn’t agree, and so it will be passed with no offsets at all. Why is this good news for Democrats? Well, the GOP took a hard-line against the payroll tax cut—which largely benefits the middle-class—last December, making the once-benign policy a partisan issue. Democrats, by and large, were okay passing it sans offsets—the suggestion to pay for it via tax cuts on the rich was more a general effort to increase taxes on the rich—and so the fact that the extension is going to pass is a political and legislative win for Democrats. But the extension expires in ten months—right around the presidential election—so this fight is only over in the short-term.
mutatio asks: With time running out on raising the debt ceiling, why has nobody focused on the budget released by the progressive caucus (which is, afaik, the only fiscally responsible budget out there)?
» SFB says: It has nothing to do with its quality or the smart ideas it proposes. The reason nobody’s focusing on it is the same reason you haven’t heard from Nancy Pelosi very much lately. It’s because the Republicans hold a huge chunk of power right now, and they would never go for it. You lost them at “tax increases.” — Ernie @ SFB
» The end result: Walker hopes to reduce the state’s structural deficit 90 percent to around $250 million – a deep, austerity-focused cut that may stop the deficit but could greatly hurt the state in the process, if you think that way. Walker, well, doesn’t. ”I have often repeated references to our state’s constitutional lesson, that it is only through frugality and moderation in government that we will see freedom and prosperity for our people,” he said. Or, you could just raise taxes if you’re really that hard up about fixing this budget problem.
I think it’d be fair to categorize the proposal (to cut union bargaining) as an overreach. Maybe the biggest reason for that claim is the fact that he didn’t campaign on this.University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor David Canon • Offering his take on Scott Walker, whose stance on unions is hurting his popularity among many. Many Wisconsin political scholars, even the ones more charitable to his position, agree that the overall end result doesn’t bode well for Walker’s long-term prospects, but may be motivated by something else entirely. “As for his political future, I’m not sure this is going to benefit him in the long run,” said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Thomas Holbrook. “I see it as more of coming from conviction and opportunity.” source (via • follow)
Instead of stimulating the hospitality sector of Illinois’ economy, Senate Democrats should come back to the Madison, debate the bill, cast their vote, and help get Wisconsin’s economy back on track.A statement from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker • Criticizing State Senators for taking a “vacation” instead of voting for the bill that would totally screw over their most important constituents. Walker is in no mood to compromise at the moment – even as unions have offered to take the cuts in efforts to retain their collective bargaining rights – which means that Democrats really have no incentive to return. Especially considering the continental breakfasts they’re probably eating right now! source (via • follow)
Is this whole Wisconsin budget mess ginned-up? That’s one of the threads flowing around the left end of the media spectrum, which suggests that Wisconsin’s budgetary problems have nothing to do with unions – and everything to do with stuff Scott Walker pushed through. They’ve been pointing to this report from the state’s fiscal bureau with this particular sentence: “More than half of the lower estimate ($117.2 million) is due to the impact of Special Session Senate Bill 2 (health savings accounts), Assembly Bill 3 (tax deductions/credits for relocated businesses), and Assembly Bill 7 (tax exclusion for new employees).” To make it clear, these are all things that Walker pushed through. These have nothing to do with unions. They’re intended as stimulus through tax cuts and incentives, however, not special interest-focused spending as a few have suggested. The overall result still leads one to question Walker’s motives, however – because, based on this evidence, that the union collective bargaining cuts could be at the benefit of his own initiatives, not strictly “balancing the budget.” (thanks mgolladwine) source
We were left with no choice … The question is when are the Republicans going to sit down seriously with the other side on this issue and try to work something out.Democrat Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach • Explaining why he chose to leave the state, and what it will take to get him back. He and every other Democratic state senator in Wisconsin left in protest of a GOP-backed plan to limit public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain for better wages, in a push to stop a deficit crisis. As a result, the GOP doesn’t have quorum – because 20 state senators need to be there, and there are 19 Republicans. This is the first such incident were an entire party left a state to avoid a vote since Democratic members of the Texas state senate and state house left the state to avoid a vote on redistricting – the same vote, mind you, that led to Tom DeLay’s corruption conviction. source (via • follow)
Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions. I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends.Barack Obama • Coming out in support of public employees currently facing the squeeze in an anti-union fight in Wisconsin. The vote will likely take place today, and it’s clear where Gov. Scott Walker is leaning – he’s budget-minded first, and sounds frustrated by the fact that collective bargaining agreements take so long. “I don’t have 15 months to balance a budget, and I certainly am not going to pass a budget on a hope and a prayer that that might happen,” he said. Hey Scott, based on the protests, it’s clear that a balanced budget is not the top priority for the people who have been flooding Madison the last few days. Consider that. source (via • follow)