Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. yesterday upped his state budget cuts proposals to almost three-quarters of a billion dollars, including a pay freeze for 200,000 state employes and the elimination of many of his favorite programs, including a plan for the state to launch its own space statellite. "We're cutting into the bone and marrow," a grim-faced Brown told a press conference here.
He said that the $7.5 million in proposed budget cuts would do away with any lingering doubts that the state can afford to send $5 billion of its growing surplus to local governments and school districts.These governments face massive cutbacks because of the voter-approved Jarvis-Gann Initiative, which limits property taxes to 1 percent of 1975-76 assessed Valuation.
There is little question that the state would have the full $ billion to refund even without the proposed budget cuts. But some legislators are concerned that the state will find itself in a deficit situation in the future unless it trims its spending.
Brown, who last week proposed $300 million in state spending cuts, left no doubt yesterday that he is prepared to go even further than the minority Republician in cutting back state spending.
Gone, along with the promised cost-of-living increase for state employes, are such pet Brown programs as the $5.8 million California satellite that was meant to link education, police and other communications facilities. Other highly touted Brown proposals, such as a wood-chip gasification plant and an urban reforestation program, are contained in separate legislation but are virtually certain to be eliminated.
The biggest single budget cut came from the pay freeze, which will save California $166 million in cost-of-living increases. An added $124 million will be saved by withholding cost-of-living increases in a variety of scoial programs.
Brown, who has privately acknowledged that he is in trouble in his re-election campaign unless he carries out the mandate of Proposition 13, combined his budget-cut proposals with a call for prompt legislative action to return the surplus and save the jobs of teachers and local government employes.
In a careful effort to avoid any move critics might describe as grand-standing, Brown understated the budget cuts at $570 million, the amount that would be directly available to return to local governments. The other cuts are from special funds that cannot be returned as part of the surplus.
Despite the unhappiness among state workers over the pay freeze, it appears that Brown will get his way.
The California State Employes Association, representing most state workers, denounced Brown for "making decisions based solely on political motivations." But the association's mildly worded statement, which seemed a formality to some legislators, contained no hint of strikes or other direct action. State employes only last week had soyght a 12.5 percent wage increase, mostly as bargaining position. The prevailing view in Sacramento is that the state employes will accept the wage freeze in return for a promise of no layoffs.
Brown has the authority under California law to reduce the state employe pay scales if the legislature refuses to accept a freeze. A two-thirds legislative vote, considered impossible to obtain in the present budget-cutting atmosphere, would be necessary to override him.
The result of Brown's budget cuts including a state hiring freeze announced last week and the affects of Proposition 13 itself, will be to slash the $17.4 billion state budget to $15.1 billion.
Many of these cuts are in reduced subventions, or revenue transfers, the state pays to local governments. Most of the state budget consists of subventions paid to school districts and local governments. This left Brown with only a $4 billion state operations budget in which to make budget cuts. The $570 million that Brown would take out of this operations budget is slightly more than 14 percent, about the same percentage of budget cuts that local governments will have to make if they receive the $5 billion state surplus.
The other cuts, which add up to the $715 million in the total proposal, come from agencies like Fish and Game or the highway department, which are funded by user fees, licenses and specially earmarked taxes. While these cuts will have no effect, on the local government dilemma, taxes, a Brown aide said that these reductions were made so that all departments would be equally affected by budget tightening.