SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers have long warned of dire consequences if California voters reject a proposed tax hike on the November ballot.
In passing and signing a $91 state billion budget late Wednesday, they made it clear it wasn’t a hollow threat by including $6 billion in automatic cuts that will go into effect if the initiative fails.
Lawmakers added some of the distasteful provisions in the final days of budget negotiations, authorizing shorter school years, less money for local police and possible fee increases at the University of California and California State University systems.
To make sure voters are paying attention, they passed a separate measure that will likely give Brown’s initiative top billing on the crowded fall ballot.
The governor and lawmakers said the bulk of cuts will have to fall on public schools and universities because education accounts for more than half of state spending.
“My revenue proposal is fair and temporary,” Brown said in a statement announcing he had signed the budget. “Our state budget problem was built up over a decade, and it won’t be fixed overnight. These temporary increases will ensure funding for our schools until the economy improves.”
Brown, a Democrat, estimated the tax initiative will raise $8.5 billion in the new fiscal year starting July 1 by increasing the sales tax by a quarter cent to 7.5 percent for four years, and boosting the income tax on individuals who make more than $250,000 a year for seven years.
Republicans blasted the way Democrats crafted the budget.
“It’s a disgrace that Democrats are playing politics with the budget to sweeten the appeal for ill-fated taxes at the ballot box,” Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Tulare said after Democrats passed the budget package on a majority vote.
A recent Field Poll found California voters divided on Brown’s initiative, with 52 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.
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