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Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023

VICA Finds New State Budget Encouraging

The Valley Industry & Commerce Association found encouraging tax breaks and political reforms included in the new state budget. Lawmakers in Sacramento ended months of disagreement by approving a plan that makes cuts to schools, healthcare institutions, and higher education and hikes the sales tax, personal income tax and vehicle registration fee. VICA hasn’t taken a formal position on the budget but expects that tax credits for small businesses hiring new employees and filming incentives will add jobs during a struggling economy. “We commend our leaders for stepping up and making the tough decisions we elected them to make,” said association President Stuart Waldman. The budget was built on what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called “a four-legged” stool of spending cuts of $14.9 billion, revenue increases of $12.5 billion, $7.8 billion in economic stimulus money from Washington, and making government functions more efficient, which includes creating a new cabinet-level Secretary of Energy and consolidating information technology functions under a single supervisor. But no budget agreement could be reached without the vote of Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria. In exchange for his support, Maldonado wanted state Democrats to back open primaries, which goes before voters in 2010 in a ballot measure. Open primaries would allow voters to cross party lines when casting their ballots and involve a runoff election between the two candidates receiving the most votes. Putting the open primary measure on the ballot is a step toward the reform needed to avoid future budget crises, said VICA Chairman Greg Lippe. “An open primary combined with the recently-passed independent redistricting proposition will have a real chance to avoid future deadlocks and create a legislature that is composed of more moderate lawmakers who can work together effectively for the common good of all Californians,” Lippe said. With a budget in hand, the state will rescind layoff notices to 20,000 employees, cancel the weekly furloughs but still require employees to take off one day a month without pay, and begin paying its bill, including tax refunds. Mark R. Madler

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