All posts by California Democratic Party

Beverly And Leonard Are Planning A Party!

Today is the birthday of Social Security, and Democrats around the country will be celebrating the program that has provided stability and dignity to seniors for the last 73 years. During the last few years, George W. Bush, John McCain and the Republicans in Congress have done their best to try to dismantle the protections that Social Security has built over the years.

“The American people said ‘no’ to George W. Bush and John McCain when they tried to privatize Social Security, and they’ll say the same loud and clear to John McCain this November for promising more of the same,” said DNC Chairman Howard Dean. “The same people who brought you Enron can’t be trusted to gamble away the Social Security trust fund on the ups and downs of the stock market. John McCain is wrong on the privatization of Social Security, and he’s the wrong choice for America’s future.”

PhotobucketThroughout the US, Democrats will be visiting Republican legislators and taking them copies of this birthday card. Here in California we have several special events taking place.

Up in CA-02, Democratic Candidate Jeff Morris, who is challenging the do-nothing Republican incumbent, Wally Herger, will be holding his Campaign Kick-Off at the Social Security Office in Redding. If you’re in the area, stop by and meet him and his wife, Judy, and their many dedicated supporters.

Where: Social Security Office, 2195 Larkspur Office, Redding, CA 96002

When: Thursday August 14th at 9:45 am

Down in CA-45, Julie Bornstein, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Republican Mary Bono Mack, will be celebrating both the Social Security Birthday and the opening of her campaign office in Palm Springs.  There’s a rumor that cake may be involved…

Where: 1027 South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA

When: Thursday August 14th from 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Or, if you’re in the Sacramento area you can join Beverly and Leonard and some of their friends. Beverly and Leonard live in CA-03, and they’re going to be honoring the birthday of Social Security by taking some birthday cake to their Republican Congressman, Dan Lungren. You see, Beverly and Leonard aren’t exactly rich, and they depend on their monthly Social Security payments to make ends meet. That’s why they’re not too keen on those risky privatization schemes that Republicans like John McCain and Dan Lungren have peddled. Here…they’ll tell you all about it.

So come out and join Beverly and Leonard (or Jeff Morris or Julie Bornstein) today as they stand up in support of our Democratic values and the programs like Social Security that have served so many millions of Americans so well.

Where: Dan Lungren’s District Office, 2339 Gold Meadow Way #220, Gold River, CA 95670

When: Thursday August 14th at 11:00 am

And tune in tomorrow to find out what happened…


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Democrats Making Their Case In Rural Counties

Cross posted on Daily Kos

PhotobucketDemocrats in Yolo County are fired up and ready to go.  They met last night at the historic Palms Playhouse in Winters for a rally sponsored by the Western Yolo County Democratic Club.

Over 100 people came out to listen and cheer as guest speaker CDP Chairman Art Torres, along with candidates Lois Wolk (SD-05), Mariko Yamada (AD-08), and Jeff Morris (CA-02), talked about “Why Rural Families are Voting Democratic – Taking Back Red California.”

Oh, and the old-time music and the free spaghetti dinner weren’t exactly deal-breakers either.

The speaking schedule was full. In addition to the politicians, there were local food and farm activists, as well as local organizers like Claire Black-Slotton, the executive director of Yolo United, and Ryan Loney, the Northern California Field Director of Students for Barack Obama and an Obama delegate to the Denver convention.

A major theme that emerged as speaker after speaker addressed the audience was the real need for California activists to get involved in local Congressional races, whether it’s for Jeff Morris in CA-02, Bill Durston in CA-03, Charlie Brown in CA-04, or Jerry McNerney in CA-11.  There was a clear sentiment among those who attended that just winning back the White House in 2008 will not be enough; we must have strong Congressional majorities to support Pres. Barack Obama as he leads our nation.

One speech in particular that really resonated in this rural setting came from Richard Rominger, a former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration who is currently advising the Obama campaign on agriculture affairs. Here’s what Rominger had to say:

Richard Rominger, Art Torres, Lois Wolk


What are rural Americans thinking about these days? Farm prices, food prices, fuel prices, health care costs, the war in Iraq, immigration, climate change.

A couple of quotes from Senator Obama: “When we strengthen our rural communities, we lift up our entire nation.” “I think that people who live in rural areas can feel confident that I’m not a newcomer to this.”

Senator Obama supported passage of the current Farm Bill, but said he wanted more reform. The Farm Bill was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate over President Bush’s veto. Senator McCain opposed the Farm Bill, saying he would have vetoed it just as Bush did. The bill included more money for conservation programs, including the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program; more money for nutrition programs, including more fruits and vegetables for school lunch programs, more help for farmers markets, and increases in food stamps; more support for agricultural research; and a boost for renewable energy. It is clearly better than the previous Farm Bill, although it is far from perfect.

Senator Obama has repeatedly voted to fund agriculture programs while Senator McCain has repeatedly voted against funding agriculture programs.

Senator Obama would limit farm subsidies to prevent very large farms from collecting the vast majority of subsidies. Senator McCain voted against capping subsidies.

Senator Obama has voted for emergency assistance for farmers in times of disasters. Senator McCain has repeatedly voted against emergency assistance for farmers.

Senator Obama supports immediate implementation of Country of Origin Labeling, starting with meat products. Senator McCain voted against Country of Origin Labeling.

Senator Obama voted for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Senator McCain repeatedly voted against it.

Barack Obama has a comprehensive energy plan to help Americans cope with the energy crisis in the short term, and make the long-term investments we need to break our addiction to oil. He will use some of the oil companies’ record-breaking profits for an Emergency Energy Rebate of $1,000 per family or $500 per individual. He will also release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cut prices.

Within ten years we could save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined, by increasing fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles, working with the auto industry to put 1 million plug-in hybrid cars – cars that get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, and investing in the development of new fuels.

Senator Obama will help create five million new jobs by investing in a clean energy future: Investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to develop clean energy technologies, from jump starting the commercialization of plug-in hybrids to advancing the next generation of biofuels. These are five million jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Barack Obama would diversify our energy sources by adopting an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring 10% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. That will spur significant private sector investment in renewable sources such as wind and solar, creating thousands more new jobs. (You may have noticed the recent news articles about 11 shiploads of wind turbine parts being unloaded at the Port of Sacramento for a new wind farm near Rio Vista).

As president, Obama will implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. And he’ll work with our allies abroad to develop effective emissions reduction efforts.

Senator Obama has proposed a plan to extricate the U.S. from the misguided war in Iraq. Senator McCain would prolong the Bush policies.

Senator Obama supported the expansion of the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Senator McCain joined President Bush in opposing the expansion of this successful program.

Senator Obama supports increasing access to health care in rural areas by investing in Health Information Technology and TeleMedicine. When Senator McCain was asked about his rural health care plan he admitted it does “not sound too serious.” In 2003, Senator McCain voted against funding for rural Medicare health care providers.

On immigration, Senator Obama supports comprehensive reform, including secure borders, an Ag Jobs Program, and a path over a period of years for those already here illegally to earn resident status. Senator McCain originally supported comprehensive legislation, but has since backed away from it.

For the estate tax, Senator Obama supports the limits that will be in effect in 2009, which is $3.5 million per person, $7 million per couple, which will exempt 99% of farms and businesses. Senator McCain supports higher limits which will allow wealthier tax payers to escape the tax.

To sum up, an Obama administration, along with Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives will provide an economy that answers the needs of farmers and all of rural America, as well as our urban and suburban neighbors, and returns the United States of America to its former position of leadership and respect in the world.


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Eartha Takes It To The Streets

With the SF Chronicle publishing a long front page feature yesterday about the cessation of Medi-Cal payments scheduled to start next week and the resulting hardships to the chronically ill and disabled, I wanted to share a story with you about one activist and how she’s standing up to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Eartha Newsong is a Democrat and former nun/retired nurse who lives in the upscale Bay Area suburb of Orinda.  Three weeks ago she read an article in her local paper which discussed the fight over state budget cuts and the effect that the Republicans’ ideological intransigence would have on group homes in her community.

Few people are following the state budget impasse in Sacramento with as much anxiety as Steve Zolno, co-owner of 11 homes for disabled children and adults in Contra Costa County.

Hundreds of such homes across the state will be among the earliest casualties of the budget stalemate. Their funding will evaporate within the next week or two as a state contingency fund runs out of money.

Zolno and his business partner, Lupe Henry, are worried how they will continue caring for their fragile clients.

“It’s not like we can cut corners,” Henry said. “I can’t tell my staff to come back in two weeks or reduce the amount of food we buy.  […]

Zolno and Henry operate homes in Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg and Oakley. Each houses about six developmentally disabled children or adults in family-type settings. Many are quadriplegic and are fed through tubes in their stomachs. Some have cerebral palsy. Others have frequent seizures.

“They’re beyond what their families can take care of,” Zolno said.

PhotobucketWhen Eartha read that article she was horrified. How could the severely disabled in her own community be threatened with such cruel indifference?  Where was the outrage?  Well, Eartha found out that there is plenty of outrage because instead of sitting back helplessly, she decided to get involved and do her best to fight against group home closures.  Armed with a copy of the newspaper article and a petition that she wrote herself, Eartha went to her local farmers’ market the next day (July 13).  

Something amazing happened there.

Eartha talked with people who live and shop in Orinda and discovered that they were just as upset as she was.  In one afternoon, she collected more than 150 signatures on her petition.

Think of that.  In just a few hours, Eartha talked to AT LEAST 150 people who share her concern that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Republican members of the legislature need to “…recognize the devastating effects of your proposed budget cuts, and immediately negotiate with Democratic members in the State legislature to find a way to raise revenues imminently needed to assure that the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society such as the disabled, will not face the end of services to them.”

It turns out that California residents everywhere are increasingly angry with the state’s Republican politicians and their willingness to gut the programs that have served us so well and made so many of us proud to be Californians.

Instead of just complaining, wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of us took the initiative as citizens and as Democrats to talk to the people in our community, organize like Eartha did, and send a loud message to the Republicans in Sacramento that they need to stop their obstructionism and get busy finding solutions that work for ALL Californians?  

If you’d like to take it to the streets like Eartha did, you can organize your own budget action(s) by downloading the following materials that have been provided by the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus at their website:

And here’s who you should contact:

  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

    State Capitol Building

    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Phone: 916-445-2841

    Fax: 916-558-3160

  • Assemblyman Michael Villines

    Assembly Republican Leader

    State Capitol Room 3104

    Sacramento, CA 94249-0029

    Ph: (916) 319-2029

    Fax: (916) 319-2129

    Email: [email protected]
  • Senator Dave Cogdill

    Senate Republican Leader

    State Capitol, Room 305

    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Phone: (916) 651-4014

    Fax: (916) 327-3523

    Email: [email protected]

Or if you would prefer to take online action, you can visit the California Demomcratic Party’s website and send a letter to the editor of your local paper and/or sign our online petition. Whatever your choice is, take action — get involved! Don’t just sit by passively and allow the Republicans to put the screws to the weakest and most vulnerable Californians.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  — Margaret Mead


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

California Democrats Greet John McCain

John McCain came to California on Monday for a fundraising swing that took him to Bakersfield and San Francisco.

Candi Easter, Chair of the Kern County Democratic Party, organized a Democratic reception for John McCain in Bakersfield and was elated when 75 people showed up for the noontime rally. Here’s Candi’s report of Monday’s events:

Thanks to every one that participated in the rally this afternoon! We had a wonderful turnout with a very diverse group of folks. We had people from The Kern River Valley Democratic Club and the Tehachapi Mountain Democratic Club — a 100-mile round trip for them!!!!

The Obama Campaign came out and brought the next president (Barack Obama  — he was a little stiff, though) with them. We also had Elsa Florez and some of the Florez staff come on their lunch hour. I cannot forget Democratic Women of Kern! Thank you all for coming out and changing the news cycle today.


Photobucket   Photobucket

Later in the day, McCain showed up in San Francisco for a $1,000+ per plate dinner where he was welcomed by 200-250 Democrats who came out in force with their “McCain=Bush III” and  “McCain, McSame, McBush” signs.  Inside the fundraiser, McCain reportedly unleashed his strangely discomfiting sense of “humor”:  “I will compete, and I will win in the state of California,” he vowed to a crowd of about 250 at the Fairmont Hotel, then quipped after applause, “and following that I will take back to Arizona all the water that you’ve stolen from us.” Wow. That seems like a really clever way to woo Californians. Delusional, yet managing to be both threatening and insulting — that really hits all the right notes.

Meanwhile, back in the land of sane people, a special thanks should go to Aaron Peskin, the new Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, and Pres. Alec Bash and the members of Democracy Action for their role in organizing this event.  We’ll post another diary once Alec has prepared his video of the Bush-McCain Challenge.

Photobucket    Photobucket

The awesome bus is from a group of organizations making a publicity tour of the country (AFSCME, AFL-CIO, Americans United For Change, and others). They were in town for the AFSCME International Convention and broke the bus out to circle around the hotel. The bus will mostly be traveling in swing states, and this may be its only trip to California.

UPDATE: Check out the video from the San Francisco event!


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Breaking: Legislative Counsel Issues Legal Opinion Favoring John Chiang

I hate to spam the diaries, but immediately after posting about the McCain visit to San Francisco, I received this press release from State Sen. Dean Florez. Since it’s pertinent to a topic which concerns us all, I’m just going to post the press release in its entirety (with emphasis added):

SACRAMENTO – Senator Dean Florez, D-Shafter, sought to alleviate the fears of state workers contemplating how to pay their bills on the federal minimum wage, while heading off a potential lawsuit between the Governor and Controller at a time the state can least afford it, by releasing a Legislative Counsel opinion stating that the Governor does not have the power to order such a cut to workers’ salaries.

“If the Governor really intended this as more than a ‘motivational’ gimmick, he clearly did not do his homework,” said Florez.  “He is making reckless and false threats against the people who keep our state running, causing undue grief to innocent people — many of whom are already struggling to get by – and I really believe he owes them an apology.”

“This just goes to show he is out of touch with the reality many workers face in their financial lives,” said Florez.  “Frankly, it shows the Governor at his lowest point.”


On Wednesday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office began threatening that, starting Monday, some 200,000 state workers would be paid only the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour until a Budget was passed.  Many of those already living paycheck-to-paycheck began to agonize over how they would pay their mortgages and afford basic necessities for their families.

In a statement immediately following the Governor’s initial announcement, Florez criticized Schwarzenegger for using hardworking men and women as hostages for the State Budget and said the move demonstrated his weakness as a negotiator.  

At the same time, Controller John Chiang indicated he would not obey such an order from the Governor, while a Governor’s spokesman claimed Chiang would be challenging the State Constitution and Supreme Court.

Florez turned to the state’s non-partisan Legislative Counsel for a legal opinion on the matter.  Friday afternoon he received an opinion stating that the Governor, who does not have the authority to issue paychecks, cannot compel his fellow Constitutional officer Chiang – who holds sole authority to issue warrants – to withhold workers’ pay.

“The Governor does not have the authority to issue paychecks, and he doesn’t have the power to take them away,” Florez said in summary.  “State workers should be assured the Constitution and state statutes support the Controller continuing to issue full pay for a full day’s work, no matter what threats the Governor may throw their way.”


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Bush-McCain Challenge in SF – Can You Tell the Difference?

(Good to see the CDP stepping up.  McCain should be radioactive in SF. – promoted by David Dayen)

The California Democratic Party will be welcoming John McCain to San Francisco on Monday evening, along with activists from the SF MoveOn Council and Democracy Action.  McCain will be attending a $1000/plate fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel.  But before McCain supporters enter the hotel, Democratic activists will be inviting them to take the Bush/McCain Challenge.  

Here’s how the challenge works.  Supporters and passersby are given five quotes and then asked “Who said what – Bush, McCain or Both – Can You Tell the Difference?”  And anybody who can answer three out of five correctly will win the grand prize of – a tootsie-pop!  

You can see how it works from a previous session in Berkeley.  Check it on the flip…

So if you’re anywhere near San Francisco, come join other Democrats on Monday evening.  Grab a “Bush’s Third Term” sign and give McSame a big San Francisco welcome!

  • Fairmont Hotel, Mason Street between California & Sacramento
  • 5:30-7:30pm Monday, July 28


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Gavin Newsom at Netroots Nation: A Call to Action on Proposition 8

Cross posted on Daily Kos

Sometimes it’s instructive to revisit recent history to bring an issue into focus.

In February 2004, just 14 days after he became the Mayor, Gavin Newsom announced that the City of San Francisco would start marrying same-sex couples. The news sent shockwaves through California as happy couples lined up to get their marriage licenses. It’s interesting to take a look back at what Newsom had to say at the time.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Sunday he is willing to sacrifice his political career over his belief that denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry “is wrong and inconsistent with the values this country holds dear.”

“I think we’re on firm legal footing and legal grounds, and certainly I believe very strongly and passionately we’re on the right moral ground,” Newsom said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”  […]

“I will not abdicate and step back and say what we were doing 10, 15 days ago — before this action — is appropriate,” Newsom said. “I do not believe it’s appropriate for me, as mayor of San Francisco, to discriminate against people.

“And if that means my political career ends, so be it.”  […]

More on the flip…

Newsom said he believes that the equal-protection clauses of the state’s constitution trump the state law.

“I took an oath of office to bear truth, faith and allegiance to the constitution of the state of California, and there is nothing in that constitution that says that I have the right to discriminate against people on any basis,” he said. “And I simply won’t do that.”

So in May of this year, four years later, when the resulting lawsuit against the City of San Francisco was finally adjudicated, the California Supreme Court said pretty much the same thing that Gavin Newsom had said back in 2004.

The California Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday, saying sexual orientation, like race or gender, “does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”  […]

“We … conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples,” Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority.

But no sooner did the Court issue its ruling than the opponents of marriage equality qualified Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment which would prohibit same-sex marriage, for the November election. So now that the fight has moved from the courts to the ballot box, it’s hardly surprising to find Gavin Newsom once again reminding us that we all need to follow his courageous and principled lead and fight to protect that moral high ground he staked out back in 2004.  

We met with Mayor Newsom this morning at Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas, and he shared his thoughts about the need for Democrats to unite to defeat Proposition 8 and to fully and finally establish that marriage equality is the law in California.  

California Democrats have many candidates and issues to rally around in the 2008 campaign, but one of the very most important will be the battle for fundamental rights that will be at the heart of the fight against Proposition 8.  For information about how you can help defeat Proposition 8, you can visit Equality For All.


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

A Message From Debbie Cook at Netroots Nation

( – promoted by shayera)

Cross posted at DailyKos

Last month Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) made news of the silly sort when he stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and gave a speech ascribing global climate change to “dinosaur flatulence.”

In comments broadcast on C-SPAN television last week, Rohrabacher suggested that “dinosaur flatulence” may have been responsible for past swings in global temperatures, and that the enormous growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide in the past century — and increased global temperatures — are not man-caused.

Rohrabacher’s claim puts him at odds with many in his own party, including President George W. Bush, whose White House acknowledged man-made global warming this year.

Of course, after his comments turned him into a media laughingstock, Rohrabacher tried to walk back from his statement claiming it was all a big joke.  But it’s hard to figure out what’s more offensive, treating the challenges presented by global climate change as a joke or being massively ill-informed about the major perils that face our planet in the coming years.

Of course, Rohrabacher’s buffoonery and willful ignorance of the issues surrounding global climate change stand in stark contrast to the obvious intelligence and sober good judgment that his Democratic opponent Debbie Cook (Mayor, Huntington Beach) brings to the table.  As a recognized expert in energy and transportation policy, Cook is a passionate advocate for renewable energy.  Instead of sticking her head in the sand and indulging in denial, Cook is working to find smart and creative solutions to the very real problems that we face in California and, indeed, nationwide.

Debbie’s message is on the flip…

And Debbie Cook’s message of responsible stewardship is resonating in her district.  Dana Rohrabacher may be an ten-term incumbent who hasn’t had to work for re-election in a very long time, but this year, change is in the air.  The Cook Political Report has changed the rating for the district from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican.”  Cook has raised more campaign money than Rohrabacher for two consecutive quarters.  And with a Republican PVI of +6, there are some people who see strong comparisons between the CA-46 race and the 2006 race in CA-11 between Jerry McNerney and Richard Pombo.  CA-11 also had a +6 PVI, and at this time in the campaign cycle also was being upgraded from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican.”

As a matter of fact, in a conversation today at Netroots Nation with A.J. Carrillo, the campaign manager who engineered McNerney’s successful 2006 Congressional campaign, Carrillo took the comparison even further:

“I met Debbie Cook for the first time today. I’ve read a lot about her, and I was just blown away by her as a candidate. She brings a lot to the table, and I think if any seat in California is going to flip, this is the one. There are a lot of parallels to the McNerney race, plus she’s an excellent candidate.”

Today we caught up with Debbie Cook at Netroots Nation and recorded this message to the netroots:

You can find more information about Debbie Cook at


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Neighborhood Leader Program Introduced at Netroots Nation

(I’m at the Obama/DNC registration event right now, this was a great event this afternoon with Dr. Dean.  Get out the vote!!! – promoted by David Dayen)

The Barack Obama/DNC “Register for Change” bus just pulled up in front of the Netroots Nation convention in Austin, Texas, so that DNC Chairman Howard Dean could lead a rally and then register voters outside the Austin Convention Center.  Dean’s visit took place during a noon-time break in panel discussions being led by the Obama campaign and the DNC, laying out their plan for winning in 2008.

Photobucket   Photobucket

Those of you who have read emails and posts from the California Democratic Party have already heard many of the specifics for their plan.  The primary tool that Democrats will be using to win this election in November is the Neighborhood Leader program.

In the morning’s first presentation, the speaker, Parag Mehta of the DNC outlined the effectiveness of various forms of communicating with voters.  He provided some data about political outreach that were extremely telling.  

The contact required to garner one vote for your cause requires the following:

  • 389 mailers
  • 460 phone calls
  • 14 doors knocked

Those numbers don’t leave much doubt as to where we can most effectively increase our numbers of Democratic votes for November.  And something tells me there’s going to be a lot more talk here at Netroots Nation about the Neighborhood Leader program.  

That’s because the premise is strikingly effective and amazingly simple.  You sign up to be a Neighborhood Leader and promise to talk to 25 of your friends and neighbors about your Democratic values and the candidates who share your values.  You talk to them three separate times between now and November.   Then you try to find two other people to volunteer to become Neighborhood Leaders.

Our message is amplified exponentially, and most importantly our message comes to people from trusted sources.

It’s such a powerful tool, that they even plastered the message on the side of the Register for Change bus.

Photobucket   Photobucket


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party

Increased State Spending Will Spur Economic Growth In California

The California Budget Project released a report on Friday entitled “Budget Cuts or Tax Increases: Which Are Preferable During an Economic Downturn?” Their findings? Well, let’s just say their findings have proven the Republican minority wrong once again. “Carefully chosen tax increases are preferable to cutting public spending when the economy is weak.”

The economies of states that substantially increased taxes in recent years performed as well as or better than those of states that did not. States that enacted large tax increases between 2002 and 2004 – increasing state revenues by at least 5 percent – subsequently experienced stronger average growth in personal income than states that did not increase taxes at all. Additionally, average job and wage growth was essentially the same for states that increased taxes the most during this period as it was for states that did not increase taxes. Moreover, states that raised taxes substantially are considerably less likely to face budget shortfalls this year than are states that did not.


But is the opposite true?  Well, pretty much yes.

The economies of states that enacted large tax cuts in the late 1990s and early 2000s performed worse than those of other states. States that enacted large tax cuts between 1994 and 2001 – reducing revenue by at least 7 percent – subsequently experienced weaker growth in jobs and personal income and larger increases in the unemployment rate, on average, than other states. Furthermore, the states that enacted large tax cuts faced larger budget shortfalls when their economies weakened.

In the meantime, Assembly Budget Chair John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) released the Assembly Budget Committee’s Conference Report on the 2008-2009 State Budget earlier today. The Conference Report calls for some budget cuts but proposes $8.2 billion in increased tax revenue to balance California’s budget without drastically cutting public spending on vital services. The CBP report gives ample justification for the approach that Laird and the Assembly Democrats are recommending.  

According to Nobel Prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz, when the economy is weak, “economic theory and evidence gives a clear and unambiguous answer: It is economically preferable to raise taxes on those with high incomes than to cut state expenditures.”

State spending reductions could further exacerbate the weak economy. Consumers buy less and businesses produce less when the economy is weak. Therefore, the key to promoting the state’s economic growth in the short run is to encourage spending on goods and services. Stiglitz writes: “In a recession, you want to raise (or not decrease) the level of total spending – by households, businesses and government – in the economy. That keeps people employed and buying things, and makes it more likely that businesses will want to invest to serve that consumer demand.” However, state spending reductions have the opposite effect: Each dollar less that the state spends generally reduces consumption by the same amount.


Online Organizing Director

California Democratic Party