Voters must become partners in California's recovery
February 22, 2011
We are at a pivotal point in legislative discussions regarding the budget. The Governor has outlined a plan that severely cuts programs and extends some temporary tax measures. No one is happy with the steps needed to balance the state’s budget.
Constituents are streaming through my capitol office to talk about their priorities. Cities want to hang on to redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones. Educators fear the consequences of further cuts to our schools. Programs transitioning families into working, tax-paying members of the community are fighting to save childcare subsidies that allow parents to remain in the workforce. Family members of those with developmental disabilities fear the loss of services will send their dependents into institutionalized care. All these programs depend on now-scarce state dollars.
I hear the fear and appreciate the pain program reductions will cause. But I believe we are all missing the key point. The Governor’s proposal hinges on a special election in June to extend a package of temporary tax measures for five additional years.
The Governor pledged that taxes would not be raised without the consent of the voters. Most urgent now is the need to place the package of tax extensions on the June ballot. But that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature. Some of your elected representatives oppose allowing the question of temporary tax extensions to go to the voters; however, voters are the ones who will feel the impact of curtailed programs, eliminated services, and a postponed economic recovery.
Voters deserve the opportunity to choose how to finance state government.
Governor Brown has asked us to be partners in this journey to rebuild California. He has brought fresh ideas to the legislature and the voters. The tough times we are experiencing are temporary. We can protect those things that make California great-education, transportation, natural resources, social services and care for our most vulnerable. We must work together as Californians. As we share in the blessings of our state, we must also share in the sacrifices.
I trust the voters of the State of California to weigh the choices and the potential consequences of failing to extend some taxes. But the voters won’t get this chance if legislators block the measure from being placed on the June ballot. This must be done by early March. If you want the opportunity to decide how to raise and spend your tax dollars, contact your State Senator and Assembly Member and urge them to vote to place the Governor’s tax package on the June ballot.
If we all do our part we can get California through this crisis.
Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto) is Assistant Majority Policy Leader for the 2011-2012 session of the California State Assembly. She represents the 62nd District which includes Colton, Rialto, Muscoy, Bloomington and parts of Fontana and San Bernardino.