Gov. Brown deserves credit for the most honest state budget in years, one that addresses our state’s fiscal crisis without tricks and gimmicks. But balancing the budget isn’t the same as restoring California’s prosperity, and that must be our goal.
In his speech, Brown asked for suggestions. Here are some approaches that can revitalize the economy of even our hardest-hit communities:
Generate new revenues to protect vital programs. Severe cuts to health, higher education and other programs will cause tremendous harm. California should consider new revenue sources, such as an oil severance tax.
Save our homes – save California’s economy. Instead of letting new waves of foreclosures devastate more communities, Gov. Brown and Atty. General Kamala Harris must pressure financial institutions to offer loan modifications to the 90 percent of eligible homeowners not helped by current programs. Otherwise, continuing foreclosures will weigh down our economy and prevent the growth needed to avert future budget crises.
Preserve health reform momentum and stop unfair rate increases. Californians are already benefitting from national health insurance reform. Now let’s take the next step and pass pending legislation to protect Californians against abusive, job-killing rate increases.
Bolster small businesses. The California Public Utilities Commission has an effective supplier diversity program that resulted in over $2 billion in contracts with diverse small businesses in 2009 alone. Replicating this model in other areas will encourage small businesses in the most hard-hit communities.
Let’s do more than manage scarcity. Let’s grow jobs in California.
The Greenlining Institute