By Chris Levister –
California Republican lawmakers are taking a victory lap since the Democratled legislature passed an $86 million state budget last week without a single GOP vote. The plan did not include the Democrats' top solution—a renewal of the higher income, sales and vehicle taxes approved two years ago.
But not every conservative is celebrating.
In fact some Republican lawmakers and voters worry that the party’s ironclad pledge to beat back the deficit solely through cuts could backfire and hurt the California Republican Party’s aim to attract independents and Democrats.
One YouTube video of GOP lawmakers claiming ‘victory in holding out against taxes’ went viral as word of deeper budget cuts spread to millions of frustrated state voters many of whom claim they were robbed of the right to decide on the hotly debated tax extensions.
“As Groucho Marx would say, 'Time wounds all heels’,” said Inland conservatives Annette and Allen Ruifen who lost their teaching jobs in May and are now scrambling to keep their two sons in college. The couple fear the governor and legislature’s $650 million in funding cuts to the University of California will result in higher tuition.
“Like Republican lawmakers in Minnesota, Washington, Iowa and across the country they have the delusion that they can balance budgets entirely from cuts. Their anti-tax radicalism, maintained at any cost, is doing enormous damage at all levels,” Mr. Ruifen said angrily.
Most Republican state lawmakers opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extension plan, but Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, a Republican sided with the governor. Tavaglione plans to run for Congress in a new district that includes the Riverside, Norco, Eastvale, Moreno Valley and Jurupa Valley areas In face-to-face dealings with Brown and members of the state Legislature he urged a bipartisan budget solution and fought to guarantee that California provides adequate funding for any services the state shifts to counties. He says Riverside County already faces $100 million in cuts.
“We have anywhere from an additional $150 million to $170 million in cuts that will occur in our city alone should the tax extensions not happen. We would not be able to function.” San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops said local officials just want the budget problem solved.
“I just feel as a lifelong Republican, the party I have been affiliated with for a long time has backed itself into a corner,” Hoops said. “The Democrats and Republicans together have to take off their partisan hats and fix this problem.”
Gary Toebben, is president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, his group supported Brown's proposal to extend the temporary tax hikes in exchange for structural reforms.
“The Republicans are calling it a victory because they believe that not extending the higher tax rates, was good for the average Californian,” said Toebben, a Republican. “Our feeling is that the cuts that had to be made in order to balance the budget will long-term negatively impact K-12 education and higher education, and that's a long-term investment.”
Republicans hope to pin the blame for massive spending cuts to social pro- grams and higher education on Democrats, while claiming credit for holding the line on taxes. Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, (R-Tulare), stressed that the budget was “not ours.”
“They're the ones that chose who got cut. They are the ones that made their priorities, and so if people are suffering and hurting, they need to contact the people that did that to them,” Conway said this week during an event to celebrate the expiration of a 1 cent addition to the state sales tax and another hike to the vehicle tax. “Our agenda was to put the money back in the taxpayers' pocket.”
STATE GOP’S DWINDLING BASE
The Republication Party has seen its clout in the Inland Empire erode as the influx of newcomers say they are less likely than long-timers to be bedrock Republicans. Statewide GOP registration is now below 31 percent, compared with 44 percent for Democrats and 20 percent for independents. Next year's elections will be held under new legislative districts being drawn by an independent commission and the first widespread use of California's new top-two primary system.
That’s why the California Republican Party launched a series of town hall meetings in April aimed at “connecting” with voters. Republican leaders hope taking their message directly to the people will boost party ranks.
Chairman Tom Del Beccaro says the party designed the tour to reach independents and moderate Democrats who can broaden their base.
“There are not enough Republicans in California yet for us to rely solely on them, so we have to talk to more than just our email list and people aligned with us,” Del Beccaro said.
Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) thinks more California voters will line up with Republican ideas — if they get to hear about them. As it is now, she said, Republican solutions to the state’s fiscal crisis get little play in the Democrat controlled legislature.
“We don’t draft the legislation. We don’t determine what order it comes to the floor and we don’t’ determine the cuts. We have our input, which gets summarily rejected,” Harkey said.
|< Prev||Next >|