January 26, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

State Budget Wouldn’t Look Very Different With Whitman: Elias:

Now that Jerry Brown has gone public with the second attempt of his latest turn as governor to deliver a balanced budget, it’s fair to speculate about how different things might be today if he’d lost to Meg Whitman, his billionaire 2010 Republican opponent.

The answer: Not very, mostly because it’s unlikely any governor could make many different choices. Most variations would likely be the consequence of having a Republican governor committed to the standard GOP no-new-taxes pledge pitted against solid Democratic majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

In brief, it’s doubtful legislative Democrats, beholden as they are to labor union campaign donors and liberal interest groups, would accept some of the very same cuts they’ve agreed to under Brown.

Make no mistake, those lawmakers are unhappy with the budget slashing Brown conducted last year. Some – most notably state Senate President Darryl Steinberg – say they won’t go along with the further social service and education reductions in Brown’s newest financial plan until they see what state government’s cash flow looks like two or three months from now.

But they’re not digging in their heels against Brown, as they might have with Whitman, the former eBay executive now ensconced at the helm of the Hewlett-Packard computer firm in Palo Alto. Yes, Brown’s plan balances the budget mostly at the expense of the poor, the elderly and students. But few come out and call him inhumane, as they would label any Republican doing the same things.

There are, of course, areas where differences would be certain. For one, over his two budget plans, Brown has made either real or proposed cuts of more than half a billion dollars to the University of California and California State University systems. Most of that money will be exacted from students and their parents in the form of jacked-up tuition and fees, as the state’s level of support for higher education ebbs to an all-time low. Plus, Brown threatens to cut another $4 billion-plus from public elementary and high schools unless voters approve a tax increase next fall. Not exactly the “education governor.”

Whitman, by contrast, pledged to “invest $1 billion” in those same public university systems, promising to get the money via “savings from welfare and other budgetary reforms.” Of course, it’s questionable whether she could have made changes of that scale over the objections of the Legislature, so the result might have been a stalemate, with the UC and CSU systems winding up with about their previous levels of support. Either way, they would be better off today had Whitman won. So would elementary and high schools, where Whitman probably would not even have tried to eliminate or delay transitional kindergartens for children born between September and December, something Brown now proposes.

But welfare recipients and in-home health care clients and providers might be even worse off than they’ve been under Brown. Whitman, for example, vowed to blue-pencil entirely the in-home care program and essentially let helpless and often penniless elderly and paraplegic persons somehow try to fend for themselves. Perhaps she believed, as Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has claimed in several of his party’s presidential debates, that “volunteers would come forward” to do the job. The reality is there might have been some such volunteers, but only a fraction of what it would take to replace the entire program.

In this area, Brown hasn’t behaved very differently from what Whitman outlined. His budgeteers tried to axe the in-home care program last year only to see legislative Democrats revive it, although to a lesser extent and expense than its previous form. Brown also cut the state’s welfare-to-work program substantially and proposes to chop it more. He seeks, for one thing, to end welfare payments for parents who don’t meet work requirements after 24 months, rather than the current four years. Combined with his projected cut to child care subsidies, that would lop more than $1 billion from the next budget, just about what Whitman said she would transfer to the colleges.

All of which means that in his new incarnation, Brown does not exactly fit into the “tax-and-spend” liberal category, as Republicans often claim. Plainly, he is also no slave to the unions that largely paid for his campaign (ask unionized workers at state prisons, where more than 3,000 jobs may be eliminated). And it means that a Whitman administration, had she tried to keep her campaign promises, might not have been all that different for almost everyone except university students and professors.

in Opinion
Related Posts

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 3 Our Boulevards

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

This is the 3rd of a 5 part article outlining serious issues that Santa Monica residents and the City Council...

Letter to the Editor: A Solution for Drivers and Mountain Lions Alike

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

The recent story, Local Mountain Lions Show First Reproductive Effects of Inbreeding, highlights a study that found mountain lions in...

Opinion: Housing Battle Heats up in Signature Season

January 21, 2022

January 21, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Even before a proposed homeowner-inspired measure aiming to restore full zoning powers to local governments hit...

Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule? – Part 2 Our Downtown

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

This is the 2nd of five weekly articles looking at the history and current condition of Santa Monica’s beachfront environment...

Column: Let’s talk About the Soil

January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

Everyone knows that we are undergoing a climate change not seen on the earth before. We all understand what is...

A New Years Glimpse Into Santa Monica’s Future: Will Developers or Residents Rule?

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

It’s a New Year, a make-or-break year for Santa Monica!! How much do you care about your city and it’s...

Opinion: Attorney General Spurs on Big 2022 Housing Battle

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There will be plenty of political battles next year, starting with likely reelection challenges to Gov....

Should California Have a Formal Right to Shelter?

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist On a de facto basis, Californians have had a right to shelter for many years. But...

SM.a.r.t Wishes for 2022

January 3, 2022

January 3, 2022

We wish for: All California residents to gain back the control of their Cities from Sacramento’s draconian power grab by...

SMa.r.t. 2021 Christmas Card

December 22, 2021

December 22, 2021

Dear Readers, SM.a.r.t. (Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow) wish you all a joyous Holiday Season and a Wonderful...

Seismic Water Resiliency

December 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

This is the 2nd part of two-part article  (see smmirror.com/2021/12/sma-r-t-column-its-not-your-fault/ for the first part) Last week we wrote about the...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Not Your Fault

December 13, 2021

December 13, 2021

This is a two-part article Two large tectonic plates are engaged in a titanic multi-million year battle to slip past...

One of LA’s Best Omakase Counters is Tucked Away in a Santa Monica Hotel Lobby

December 8, 2021

December 8, 2021

Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa’s Soko restaurant offers an extraordinary culinary experience By Sam Catanzaro Tucked into the lobby of a...

Building Conversion in Today’s Market Environment

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

Adaptive reuse, repurposing, and up-cycling of industrial and commercial buildings (“Conversion”) for greater in-demand uses are rapidly becoming the direction...

Opinion: Shore Hotel and Unite Here Local 11

December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021

By David G. Brown  While reading one of the mass text messages recently sent by Unite Here Local 11 in...