Lawmakers scrutinize Brown’s budget plan to give locals more control

Assembly members Mike Feuer, D-Monterey Park, left and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, look over a copy of the Legislative Analyst's report on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2011-12 budget, during a hearing of the Assembly budget committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Lawmakers began going through Brown's proposed $84.6 billion general fund spending plan that contains taxes, cuts and major government restructoring to try to fill an estimated $25.4 billion budget gap.
Assembly members Mike Feuer, D-Monterey Park, left and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, look over a copy of the Legislative Analyst's report on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2011-12 budget, during a hearing of the Assembly budget committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011. Lawmakers began going through Brown's proposed $84.6 billion general fund spending plan that contains taxes, cuts and major government restructoring to try to fill an estimated $25.4 billion budget gap. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Lawmakers in Sacramento held the first hearing today on the Governor Brown’s budget proposal. Most of the buzz was over his plan to shift services from the state to local government – and to pay for it by extending some temporary taxes.

Assembly Democrats and Republicans like the idea of giving locals more control over services in their communities. Locals would gain authority over child welfare, foster care and public safety. But assembly members also worry about the plan’s downside. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, wants the governor to flesh out the details.

"I think it’s essential given the economic straights we find ourselves in that we know the job impacts-private sector and public sector jobs," Feuer said.

Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, wanted to know how many jobs would be lost from the proposed tax extensions.

Brown wants voters to extend some temporary tax hikes for five years. He wants to give half the revenue to local government to cover the costs of services they’d take over from the state. Wagner said that $60-billion levy could hurt Californians.

"They’re going to react," said Wagner. "Maybe they’re not going to hire as many people. Not going to be as many wage earners paying income taxes. Maybe they’re not going to be able to make capital improvements and efficiencies."

Michael Cohen with the governor’s Finance Department told lawmakers Brown’s plan spreads the pain evenly between taxes and cuts.

"There’s going to be negative consequences to whatever budget package is adopted particularly one that takes care of the budget problem on an on-going basis," Cohen said.

Cohen showed lawmakers a bar chart that projects multi-billion dollar deficits for the next four fiscal years. He said the Governor’s plan erases those four red bars.

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