Following several months of debate and delays, our state representatives in


delivered a 2009-2010 budget to Governor Schwarzenegger today. The governor is expected to sign the budget as presented. Although details are sketchy, the budget appears to raise existing sales tax levels by 1 percent, and places a 0.25-percent income tax increase across the board. Under provisions included in the new budget, the vehicle license fee will increase from 0.65 percent to 1.15 percent of a vehicle’s value.

The budget also includes: a tax credit (equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price, or $10,000) for the purchase of a single-family residence that has never been occupied, as a principal residence, between March 1, 2009, and March 1, 2010; and a 90-day additional delay in foreclosure sales, intended to force lenders to implement a proactive workout program that rewrites loans in default.

The state budget package also includes a limit on future spending as a trade-off for new taxes; this would have to be approved by voters in a statewide ballot at a special election on May 19. This approach also contemplates $5.5 billion in short-term loans and voter approval of a plan to borrow $5 billion this year against future lottery revenues at the same statewide ballot election.

Fearful that special interests may try to derail the effort at the ballot box, a provision has been included in the budget to extend the major new taxes by one to three years if the spending cap is approved by the voters. Voters also would have to approve some shifting of existing special funds for mental health services and child development programs to help balance the budget.



receive more than $9.2 billion in federal aid, the income tax increase would fall from 0.25 percent to 0.125 percent, and $950 million in planned spending cuts to several programs, including in-home care and Medi-Cal, would be eliminated.

At the demand of Senator Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) — who cast the final vote needed to pass the budget — three additional propositions will be placed before the voters. If approved, these would institute an open primary system, prevent legislators from getting paid if the budget is not passed on time, and will stop salary increases to legislators if the state is operating in the red.

Although both the process and the result have left a lot to be desired, having a balanced budget in place is critical for our state in these challenging times