At CCRC, we believe we are all in this together. We have all been affected by California’s budget crisis whether by our children’s elementary school which can no longer take field trips or libraries closing down or huge potholes endangering the roads or public offices limiting their hours.
California is in a budget crisis and has been for years. But this year, the deficit is almost at 20 billion dollars! State employees have been furloughed every other Friday since February of 2010 with a short break while the policy was challenged in the courts. In July, Oakland laid off 80 police officers. More than 23,000 teachers received pink slips this year. The UC Board of Regents increased UC tuition by 32% in fall of 2009. The safety net is feeling less and less safe and yet there are still those who claim we need to make more cuts. This cutting and cutting is what took California from being the Golden State to state of crisis it’s in now. And now is the moment to address the root causes of budget crisis so that we can again reign as the most innovative and progressive state in the union that sets trends to be followed by others.
Root Causes of California budget crisis
California is the only state in the United States that has two super-majority rules. We require a 2/3 vote in the legislature to pass a budget and a 2/3 vote to raise revenues both at the state and local level. These two rules together have wreaked havoc in California for too long and it’s time we, as progressive Californians, change it.
Further, Proposition 13, passed in 1978, created vast property tax loopholes for California’s largest corporate property owners which dramatically reduced California’s revenue. Corporations who have not sold or built up their property since 1978 are essentially paying taxes on their property as if we are still in the year 1975. This HUGE tax loophole is costing the state billions of dollars a year.
What CCRC is doing
The coalition recognizes that California’s budget crisis has a highly negative impact on our constituencies and the civil rights community in California. People of color, the working class, students, poor people, immigrants, children and the elderly have been most affected by lack of services and benefits and an increase in fees. Thus, we believe solving California’s budget crisis will directly positively affect our communities.
CCRC will collaborate with the Close the Loophole campaign to ensure corporate owners of property pay their fair share of taxes. We seek to close the corporate loophole by passing a ballot initiative requiring corporations to pay current market rate property taxes as most homeowners in California already do.
CCRC has joined Building Movement, CPENH and CompassPoint to reach 10,000 non-profit employees with a workshop called “Show Me the Money” to help educate Californians about the budget and taxes. We do this in the hopes of creating more discussions about the budget and taxes so that Californians will more comprehensively informed before making policy decisions that affect them and their communities.
CCRC is hoping to create a space to centralize information about the budget and budget process reform. There are numerous organizations doing great work around the budget and its effects on civil rights. We hope that by putting all of that information together, more organizations can collaborate across strategies.
CCRC also supports the passage of Proposition 25 on the November 2010 ballot. Prop 25 will reduce from a super majority (2/3) to a simple majority vote to pass a budget in California. The 2/3 super majority vote to raise revenues will remain untouched.