Workforce Cuts Could Help State Budget

June 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new report says massive cuts in the state work force could help close the state budget deficit. The UCLA report predicts 60,000 government positions could be eliminated. But that may not be enough to close the now, $24-billion dollar deficit. Some lawmakers want to raise taxes to raise more money.

California Democrats are floating the idea of new fees and taxes in order to help solve the state's budget crisis. But republicans claim this is the last thing Californians need or want right now.

With California getting closer to running out of cash, capitol Democrats unveiled a new list of proposed fees and taxes.

The list, capitol sources confirm, includes a new tax on oil drilling production, a $15 dollar car registration fee to help keep state parks open and a $20 dollar property fee to pay for fire protection. Another possibility is a hike in the tobacco tax.

Republicans, just getting word about the taxes, are not happy. California Assemblyman Roger Niello (R) said "This economy just doesn't have the capacity to absorb any more of that, and we're just going to have to downsize government to get us through this difficult period."

Republicans said it would be irresponsible to put off decisions on deep cuts. "If we don't, then our cash position's gonna be in a state that it will cause a potential total collapse of the system, and that's totally irresponsible," said California State Senator Robert Dutton (R).

Democrats said there will be cuts, as much as $13 billion dollars, but to save college scholarships and health coverage for children they're pushing the taxes along with a rollback of corporate tax breaks.

The conference committee expects to finish its work by Tuesday with floor votes early next week. The state treasurer's office said that vote is critical if the state wants to borrow from Wall Street to stay afloat.

"In order to put a transaction together before we reach the point where we run out of sufficient cash, we need a budget by the end of June," said Tom Dresslar with the California State Treasurer's office.

It would take a two-thirds vote, meaning Republican support, to pass those taxes. The conference committee expects to finish work on the budget plan sometime Tuesday, again, setting the stage for floor votes next week.

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