HEADLINES : California
California lawmakers take skeptical eye to Jerry Brown's budget
While Gov. Jerry Brown sold his budget plan to outside groups in Southern California, state lawmakers greeted his proposal with a skeptical eye Thursday inside the Capitol.
In a Senate budget committee hearing, Democrats raised concerns not only about Brown's cuts to schools and health and welfare programs, but also about the strength of his revenue projections, which the nonpartisan legislative analyst has called optimistic.
One Democrat, Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, took issue with Brown's tax hikes because he said the sales tax increase would hurt the poor.
"I understand the politics, but in terms of policy and benefiting poor people, I think this does them a disservice," Wright said. "If somebody makes $10,000 a year or somebody makes $300,000 a year, the sales tax on toilet paper is the same. I'm just saying that disadvantages the people I represent in Watts or Compton."
But Wright also questioned the idea of raising income taxes on the rich because he said it makes state revenues too volatile.
Republicans challenged Brown finance aide Michael Cohen over why the governor wants to raise taxes when the Department of Finance expects the deficit to shrink naturally as the economy slowly recovers. Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, vice chairman of the Senate budget committee, said the governor's tax plan would eventually provide the state a surplus.