EDITORIAL IT'S TOO EARLY TO SAY 'YES' BEFORE RAISING STATE TAXES, REFORM PENSIONS ; before Raising State Taxes, Reform Pensions

Article excerpt

IT was revealed over the weekend that California's budget deficit is much deeper than feared. Naturally, Gov. Jerry Brown says this is all the more reason for state voters to approve higher taxes. But is it?

No, no, 15.7 billion times no.

In fact, learning that Sacramento's fiscal management is even worse than previously believed should only make it harder to persuade taxpayers to send more money to the capital.

The latest development underscores the message Californians ought to be delivering to their government: Before we bail you out, you'd better show us you've done everything you can to limit spending.

Brown and the Legislature had been hoping that a growing economy would pump more cash into the tax coffers, shrinking the deficit, last projected at $9.2 billion.

Instead, Brown was forced to concede Saturday that lagging tax receipts have left the state $15.7 billion in the hole. He blamed the slower-than-expected economic recovery. Also, he said, court rulings have prevented some hoped-for cuts.

In a YouTube talk on the matter, the governor announced the new deficit and then waited a dignified 25 seconds before spinning it into a pitch for his tax-hike initiative.

Brown's ballot initiative, scheduled to go before voters in November, would raise an estimated $6.8 billion in the 2012-13 fiscal year through temporary increases in the sales tax and the tax rate for people making $250,000 or more.

A competing initiative backed by Pasadena attorney Molly Munger, estimated to raise $10 billion to $12 billion a year, would spread the pain over more income levels and more years and aims more specifically to make up the funding shortfall for schools. …