California is perched on the budgetary brink. We are at a crossroad, and the choices our elected leaders make will determine whether we restore California’s promise or watch the American Dream slip away.
· Reclaim the promise of quality public education and services
· Rebuild state government so it works for everyone
· Restore fair and equitable taxes to invest in California’s future
Hold teach-ins and town hall meetings
Hold rallies to enlist your support.
Blog, tweet and record the action on the frontlines with live video feeds.
March on the state capitol on April 21 to make our voices heard.
Some Key Points:
These cuts are not one year, temporary cuts. Their impact will haunt California for a generation.
o School children do not get to retake the third grade even if their classroom was too crowded and unruly for them to learn.
o Families who file for bankruptcy because they can’t afford their child’s medical bills do not get their life savings back.
o The pain of seeing a disabled loved one forced into a state institution never goes away.
o Crime victims hurt by convicted felons released from prison too soon do not become unvictimized.
· Contrary to claims by the governor, California does not have a spending problem. California has the third fewest state employees in the nation in proportion to its population. It actually ranks near the bottom in education and social spending per capita.
· It should come as no surprise that only Mississippi eighth graders read at a lower level than California eighth graders.
· The cuts being enacted across the state don’t remove waste or inefficiency. They cut into basic core services we all depend on, rich and poor alike. In Sacramento, the municipal fire department is mothballing fire trucks. The governor is considering releasing 20,000 convicted felons into our communities.
· We depend on government to keep us safe. We should close tax loopholes for the wealthy, not fire stations.
· This fiscal crisis is the direct result for political decisions made in Sacramento the past 15 years. We could solve this crisis by simply repealing tax breaks for the wealthiest and tax loopholes written for special interests and large corporations.
o Just last year, the legislature passed more than $2 billion in corporate giveaways in the midst of one of the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression.
o Returning the very top tax brackets to 1991 levels for those making more than $250,000 and $500,000 a year could raise $4-6 billion alone.
o Re-assessing the values of non-residential real estate would raise $3 billion. The inequalities of the current tax system allows Disneyland to pay a nickel per square foot in property tax while the typical family is paying $2 a square foot for their home. We should end this inequity.
o California is the only oil producing state that does not have a severance tax for oil drilled in the state. We could raise $1.5 billion by ending this giveaway to Big Oil. Claims that it will stifle production are ludicrous. Alaska has the highest oil severance tax in the nation and is the top oil producing state in the country.
· Despite the common myth that California is anti-business, it still attracts more venture capital than any state. California is a leader in technology, fashion, entertainment and agriculture. We have the eighth largest economy in the world. The American Dream was practically invented in California. We accomplished that by building a world class education system. But that system has fallen into disrepair, and the budget cuts the governor is pushing will only make it worse.
· Given that California is one of the richest states in the richest country in the world, it is unconscionable to auction off our childrens’ future so we can maintain tax breaks for millionaires and large corporations. We should not balance the budget on the backs of our school children, the poor, elderly, disabled and working families while not asking for an ounce of sacrifice from those who can most afford it.
· Many media outlets repeatedly report the claim that California has a highly progressive tax code. The idea that California soaks the rich has no truth in reality. In fact, studies have shown that California actually has a regressive tax code that taxes the poor at much higher rates. The typical taxpayer making less than $22,000 a year pays about 10.2 percent in combined state and local taxes; the wealthiest 1 percent, who make more than $600,000 a year, typically only pay 7.4 percent, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.The fiscal crisis in Sacramento is the result of a dysfunctional system that allows a mere one-third of legislators to claim victory and block budgets with overwhelming bipartisan support. In a true democracy, the idea that gets the most votes wins. Californians overwhelmingly elect progressives but in practice Sacramento governs like a red state. The current system is a subversion of democracy and the will of the people.
Second, although a clear majority of the state Legislature understands the value of public services, their efforts to restore the revenue sources once available to fund education, public health and support services, and build the infrastructure California requires, have been blocked by a unique, undemocratic rule. California is the only state in the country to require a 2/3 supermajority vote to pass both a budget and any state tax increase. Just over one third of the Legislature has signed anti-government activist Grover Norquist's "No new taxes" pledge. Norquist famously remarked that his goal was to cut government to a size it could be "drowned in a bathtub." California is currently moving in that direction.