California Faces A Most Massive Budget Shortfall

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Many states are facing budget shortfalls this year, but California is facing the largest one at more than $25 billion. From member station KQED, John Myers reports on the various proposed cuts, aimed at bridging the California budget gap.

JOHN MYERS: And I'm John Myers in Sacramento, California.

Jerry Brown is a governor whose personal frugality is the stuff of legend. These days, he's preaching that same message to the public - a necessity, he says, in the face of a $25 billion budget shortfall.

Governor JERRY BROWN (Democrat, California): Each group in California that benefits from state money will come to Sacramento and will complain. The hallways are going to be crowded in the coming months of people who say: Please keep the money coming. And my message is: the money is not there.

MYERS: When Governor Brown's budget wasn't being hit as heartless, it was being called a drag on the economy. The biggest fight so far: his plan to eliminate local redevelopment agencies and divert the tax dollars to other government services. Those tax dollars provide an economic boost, says Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (Democrat, Los Angeles): This is the wrong time to disincentivize, frankly, companies from coming to distressed areas of our city.

MYERS: To which Governor Jerry Brown, himself the former mayor of Oakland, says the question for local officials is this:

Mr. BROWN: If not you, who? Where do we get the money to replace that money?

MYERS: Brown's plan also relies on $11 billion dollars in additional taxes, which he wants voters to approve in a few months. In advance of his first State of the State address on Monday, a new statewide poll shows a majority support his plan, though the taxes would be a tough sell.

For NPR News, I'm John Myers in Sacramento.

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