LOS ANGELES - Struggling to contain mounting state budget shortfalls, California Governor Jerry Brown proposed $8.3 billion in spending cuts on Monday, including slashing state employees’ pay and the funding for social programs and prisons.
He warned that California would have to impose an additional $6 billion in cuts on public schools and higher education if voters do not approve his initiative this fall to raise sales and income taxes.
Brown said the state is facing a $15.7 billion shortfall, up from $9.2 billion in January. He blamed the worsening situation on the slide in California’s economy, which has led to lower revenues than he had projected last year, and on court decisions preventing the state from imposing approved cuts.
“I don’t like making additional cuts, and I recognize the impact they have on Californians,’’ Brown said in releasing his budget plan. “They are difficult - but necessary - in order to get us back on firm fiscal footing until California fully recovers from the global economic recession.’’
Even as he proposed cuts, Brown proposed a 16 percent increase in funding for public schools. But he said that plan is contingent on voters approving a quarter-cent hike in the sales tax and an income tax surcharge on wealthy voters.
Brown once again finds himself insisting on the need for deep cuts that seem likely to create a clash with Democratic lawmakers. “The fact is, California has been living beyond its means,’’ he said.