Monday, August 18, 2008

A State Without a Budget: Day 48: ASSEMBLYMAN SWANSON: "California must stand for something. Education needs to be a priority."


By Hon. Sandre Swanson (D)  16th AD/Oakland — From the California Progress Report

Delivered on the Assembly Floor - Sunday, Aug. 17th:  “Our debate on the budget has become very partisan, and having our debate I think is very important for the people of the state of California. The Republican speakers have mentioned on several occasions that the Democrats are interested in raising taxes.

Now, we are interested in a budget that speaks to priorities. I agree with many of the speakers who say Californians are hurting, unemployment is high, we’re in a down economy, we have a recession. we’re in a housing crisis. So, I agree we must act and do something.

The Republicans have offered a spending cap. Now we had a hearing on ACA 19 Friday, and I asked the honorable Vice-Chair, “If the spending cap was in place today, would the rules and the procedures offered in this constitutional amendment from the Republicans allow for us to address the housing crisis?

The answer is no.

Would it allow us to deal with the rising unemployment?

The answer is no.

Would it allow us to fund after school programs to deal with our growing dropout problems in the state of California?

The answer in the Republican plan is no.

One of the things we’re saying is that the Democrats are proposing a budget, and the budget stands for something. California must stand for something. Education needs to be a priority.

Now, let me just address this question of higher taxes. To the average Californian, are they talking about you? When they say they don’t want your taxes raised? I don’t think so. They’re talking about the people who would have to pay under this plan, who make $500,000 a year. They don’t want them to pay any more taxes. They’re talking about corporations, corporations that need to pay the rate they were paying in 1997, because it’s important for everyone to be accountable and to share responsibilities at this moment.

But what they’re not telling you is this: the average Californian, without the help of the State, will pay more. Because we’re talking about your priorities. They will pay more because you will have a parcel tax in your school district and you want your children to learn, so you’ll pay more. So we don’t act, we shift the burden to your school district.

They want us to cut health to the poor and the needy so that we don’t raise taxes in Sacramento, so we don’t get those who make $500,000 a year and those corporations to share. But does that give you any tax relief in your county and your town? No. Because those patients will show up in your county hospital in your trauma center and you have to raise money in your county, and again we’ve shifted the burden.

Now it’s time for some accountability and some truth-telling. This budget is before this house. This budget should be acted on not as Democrats and Republican, but as conscientious legislators who committed themselves to this Constitution to serve the needs of the citizens of this state.

Our people in this state are hurting. I say to you, all my colleagues, cast your vote. I say to the people of California, watch that vote. If you don’t like it, tell your legislator about it. We have to get on with a budget that serves the needs of the people of this state.”

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