Fiscal analyst calls Brown’s budget more straightforward than most

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Julie Small/KPCC

California Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor.

California’s legislative analyst is giving Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to close the state’s $25 billion deficit a qualified “thumbs-up.” He says it’s “straightforward” – and its fiscal assumptions are “realistic.”

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said the governor’s spending plan goes a long way towards eliminating California’s chronic budget gap, starting with $12 billion in cuts to state services.

“The governor’s proposal includes some substantial spending reductions in almost all major areas and we think that’s going to be necessary if we have any chance of balancing this budget,” says Taylor.

Brown matches the $12 billion in cuts with a plan to generate an extra $12 billion in taxes. He’d do that by extending some temporary tax increases, including higher personal income and sales tax.

“We are a little concerned still that the continuation of those taxes, at those levels, certainly don’t help our economy,” Taylor warns. “At the same token, the trade-offs is you’d have to cut another $10 or $12 billion in spending, so we think that the governor’s proposal does merit serious consideration.”

Taylor noted that Brown’s plan to have local government take over some state services is “bold” and could make for more innovation and efficiency. But he wondered whether the governor can convince voters to extend the taxes that will pay for his plan – and if they do, what will happen when those taxes expire in five years.

Taylor, however, said he’d refrain from being “too harsh” with a new administration that has had little time to compile a budget.

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