Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter
Created: 02/21/2011 08:38:16 PM PST

We are at a pivotal point in legislative discussions regarding the budget. The governor has outlined a plan that severely cuts programs and extends some temporary tax measures. No one is happy with the steps needed to balance the state’s budget.

Constituents are streaming through my capitol office to talk about their priorities. Cities want to hang on to redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones. Educators fear the consequences of further cuts to our schools. Programs transitioning families into working, taxpaying members of the community are fighting to save child care subsidies that allow parents to remain in the work force. Family members of those with developmental disabilities fear the loss of services will send their dependents into institutionalized care. All these programs depend on now-scarce state dollars.

I hear the fear and appreciate the pain program reductions will cause. But I believe we are all missing the key point. The governor’s proposal hinges on a special election in June to extend a package of temporary tax measures for five additional years.

The governor pledged that taxes would not be raised without the consent of the voters. Most urgent now is the need to place the package of tax extensions on the June ballot. But that requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Some of your elected representatives oppose allowing the question of temporary tax extensions to go to the voters; however, voters are the ones who will feel the impact of curtailed programs, eliminated services, and a postponed economic recovery.

Voters deserve the opportunity to choose how to finance state government.

Gov. Brown has asked us to be partners in this journey to rebuild California. He has brought fresh ideas to the Legislature and the voters. The tough times we are experiencing are temporary. We can protect those things that make California great – education, transportation, natural resources, social services and care for our most vulnerable. We must work together as Californians. As we share in the blessings of our state, we must also share in the sacrifices.

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