Author: Hannah

The State Budget is in Review

The State Budget is in Review

Congress embarks on a busy to-do list in the lame-duck session. A budget, transportation infrastructure and a state budget, among other items, are expected to be on the docket. Some of the major items under discussion are the state budget, the transportation infrastructure bill, a pension reform bill, and amendments to the governor’s proposed education legislation.

The state budget was first released in the fall of 1990, with a tax cut for the rich and cut-to-the-bone pay increases for state teachers.

The state has the highest tax rate in the nation. The high tax burden was a campaign issue in 2006. Then, Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton campaigned on his promise to lower the top state income tax rate to the 35 percent figure it was in 1985.

Clinton ran on bringing the top rate down to 18.5 percent in 1999. That was the lowest tax rate in the nation that year, and it was the top in the nation for the rest of the 1990s.

In 2003, the top rate was brought down again to 16 percent, which is the lowest top rate among the states and is down from 24.5 percent in 2000.

“We don’t have a lot of things to celebrate in our budget,” said House Minority Leader Joe Harris, D-Lodi. “We had a very substantial budget deficit in the last budget.”

The 2006 budget took major cuts to education and health and human services, Harris said, and then the budget was signed into law by a Republican governor.

State Treasurer Tom Gordon, the state’s senior executive officer, said, “We believe the best thing we can do in the next two years is to get a good start. We do intend to spend more, but if we find there is a gap we need to fill, we need to do it quickly.”

In other news, the state transportation bill is being reviewed in both chambers, as is the bill to repeal the state cap on personal income tax and the tax changes that take effect in January.

“If a tax is going to be repealed it is the right time to repeal it,” said Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Lodi, who

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