Republicans, tax breaks, and yachts

$145.5 billion State Budget Signed 

Schwarzenegger kills a $55-million initiative that helps the mentally ill, then signs the budget. Counties and cities can fund it, an aide says.

On Friday Governor Schwarzenegger signed the 7-week delayed State budget.  Before he signed it he did live up to his promise to slice $700 million demanded by Republican legislators to eliminate the budget deficit.

One of the ways Arnold could have accomplished this would have been to eliminate the $45 million tax break for wealthy yacht owners that Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine — a yacht owner had inserted into the budget to ease the tax burden on owners of yachts, planes and RVs.  But no, that would be too easy, as David Dayen over at Calitics eloquently put it;

OK, time for a little role-play.  You’re the post-partisan governor of a large state.  The state budget comes into your hands with cuts almost to the bone, but you promised an additional $700 million and just don’t know what to do.  Who’s going to get the shaft?

Now ask yourself this… Who doesn’t vote? Give me a sec…

I know!  Mentally ill homeless people!

The Governator terminated a successful, efficient, and effective $55-million program that has helped thousands of mentally ill homeless people break the costly cycle of hospitalization, jails and street life.  The program currently serves 4,700 people state-wide and 100 in Orange County.  The funding Orange County would have received for this program amounts to more than $1 million.  The Governor stated that

“To the extent that counties find this program beneficial and cost-effective, it can be restructured to meet the needs of each county’s homeless population using other county funding sources, such as federal funds, realignment funds, or Proposition 63 funds.”

The problem here of course is that the Governor seems to have forgotten that federal funds are rarely, if ever, available to supplant state funding, and proposition 63 funding cannot by law be used to supplant state funding levels and programs in existence in 2004.

The LA Times reports; Advocates have pledged to sue the state over the cut to the mental health program.

The voter-approved Proposition 63 forbade the state from dropping below its 2004 funding commitments to mental health. That provision was intended to prevent the state from cutting with one hand while funding with the other — a pattern that would neutralize an effort that advocates hope will mark a landmark turn in mental health.

A lawsuit probably would say the state violated that measure by slashing the program.

Proposition 63 also bars counties from using the new money to backfill old programs, meaning they can’t respond to the cut by using Proposition 63 money instead. Yet in pushing for the cut, the administration has suggested that Proposition 63 — which is generating hundreds of millions of dollars — could cushion the blow. Palmer, the Department of Finance spokesman, said Friday that counties could use many funding sources, including Proposition 63, to provide similar services.

Counties across the state, however, are facing the slow erosion of their traditional mental health budgets; state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who created the just-eliminated program in 1999, called the cut “unconscionable.”

Senator Dick AckermanHe noted that despite the allegedly strapped conditions of the state, legislators managed to preserve a tax break for some purchasers of yachts, planes and recreational vehicles — a measure that could cost the state as much as $45 million.

“A $45-million tax break for yacht owners stays in the budget,” Steinberg said. “And a nationally recognized, incredibly effective program to end homelessness for those living with mental illness gets thrown under the bus.”

Maybe it’s just me but I’m starting to see a pattern here with Orange County Republican politicians. 

OC Supervisor Pat BatesIn June the Orange County Board of Supervisors decides, at the urging of yacht owner and County Supervisor Pat Bates, sneak into the County budget the payment of property taxes owed by yacht owners in Dana Point Harbor to the tune of just under $836,000. Then Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine — a yacht owner had inserted into the budget a $45 million tax break for wealthy yacht owners to ease the tax burden on owners of yachts, planes and RVs.

But the Governor’s cuts didn’t stop at hurting the homeless.  You see, he’s an equal opportunity terminator. The LA Times reports:

He also struck a $17.4-million plan to protect seniors.

The overhaul of the state’s conservatorship system was approved last year after an investigation in The Times that detailed how a system intended to protect seniors was plagued with fraud and abuse.

At the time, top Schwarzenegger officials said the overhaul demonstrated his determination to protect the elderly. Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), who championed the reform effort, said the money was “critical to preventing horrendous abuses of our most frail and vulnerable seniors.”

Republicans, tax breaks, and yachts, it figures.  These people are out of touch, out to sea, and out of their minds.

  2 comments for “Republicans, tax breaks, and yachts

  1. August 25, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    I was just going to alert you to this. How about one of you Liberal OCers head to the Newport Beach Yacht Club with a video camera and ask the yachters how they like their tax cut at the expense of services for the mentally ill and the homeless?

  2. RHackett
    August 25, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Don’t waste your time. You’ll just answers akin to “let them eat cake.”

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