Rhetoric is heating up over Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, and the attacks and counter-attacks are flying. That means some fact-checking is in order.
We'll examine claims made in the budget debate and correct the record where needed.
Today's inaugural offering: Freshman Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly's online video from last week, arguably the strongest statement so far on the budget.
In the nearly five-minute video, Donnelly slams Brown's budget proposal for being bloated and literally rips and shreds sections of it. In his commentary, he misrepresents a key element of Brown's budget plan and what two state agencies do.
Donnelly says the proposal cuts $12.5 billion from the budget and includes "$12.1 billion in spending increases." That last figure refers to Brown's calculations of the revenue proposals in his plan (it's really $14.3 billion). He would raise about $11.2 billion of it if voters extend tax increases at a June special election.
Using the phrase "spending increases" to describe an extension of tax increases is misleading. The temporary taxes that could be extended are already funding parts of the current year's budget, so most spending levels won't rise if voters approve the tax extensions. In fact, most spending is likely to decrease even if the taxes are approved.
Donnelly also says the California Air Resources Board "answers to no one and their entire purpose is just to oversee other local agencies."
In fact, the board is appointed by the governor pending confirmation by the state Senate, and members can be removed by the governor. The board also has principal jurisdiction over mobile sources of emissions, such as vehicles, fuels and consumer products. Regional air quality districts focus on stationary sources of pollution, such as factories and power plants.
Donnelly says the Employment Development Department "is basically in charge of creating jobs in California" and proposes eliminating it. The department does link job seekers with employers but, importantly, also administers the state's unemployment insurance and disability insurance programs.
Finally, a bit of context.
Donnelly is among the 13 freshman lawmakers who opted to acquire a state car this year. Eighteen freshmen decided against taking a car. His is a 2011 Ford Edge, costing $32,000, with the state paying $284 per month and Donnelly $107.
He has said the new state car is a "mobile office" and that using his personal car would not have been cost effective because it had about 300,000 miles on its odometer and was breaking down.
"Given that I have to cover this massive district and that nobody's interested in me skipping events because I have a vehicle that's broken down in the shop, I saw this as the least expensive way for the taxpayer to actually get the job done," he said.