(Jacob Rumans) #1

XXXXX SFChronicle.com | Wednesday,January 11, 2017|A


ow does California drawup a state budgetwhen WashingtonRe-

publicans mayyank away billions in revenue? That’s the biggest

what -if question for Gov. Jerry Brown as hesketches an early sea-

son spending plan.

The pledgeby DonaldTrump andRepublican lawmakers to repeal the

6-year-old Affordable CareAct puts Californiaat the financial brink.No

state has embraced the federal plan asavidly, with some$16 billion in feder-

al moneygoing to enroll nearly 4million residents.

Takethis moneyaway — as kill-

ing the Affordable CareAct would

do — and thestate budget caves in.

Smallwonder thatstate lea ders are

digging in so publicly to defend

Obama-era initiatives that may

come undone.

The uncertaintyover Washing-

ton’s direction is leaving Brown in

never-never land.He’s proposing a

$122 billiongeneral fund budget —

one thatkeeps state spendingat

nearly the present level — while he

and budget architects in theLeg-

islatureawait the outcome ofWash-

ington’s political brawl. When and if

the federal health planvanishes,it

will mean a brand-new budget and

major consequences that will spill

red inkacross the spending picture.

By law, Brown is offeringapre-

liminary budget plan that is fine-

tuned inMay before taking effect in

July after theLegislatureapproves

it. In normalyears, it’s a chance to

frame the picture before bargaining

begins between thegovernor and

Legislatureover a spending plan.

But the Washingtonstorm cloud

fosteredby Republican control of

the Whit e House and Congress will

be the largest factor in coming


In his budget, Brown is playing

up his now-customarystinginess.

California’s roulettewheel taxsys-

tem that leans heavily on the

wealthy is proving a problem once

more, he said.It was churning out

money lastyear with more expect-

ed, but tax payments are dipping,

possibly because talk ofTrump tax

cuts is leading asset-rich taxpayers

to postpone selling.

If this trend continues, thestate

couldrun a nearly$2 billiondeficit,

the governor said.To avoid that, he’s

trimming back an increase in school

funds, tabling $400 million in af-

fordable housing aid and postpon-

ing repairs tostate buildings.But

these cutswould be tiny if the Af-

fordable CareAct disappears.

There is some cushioning.The

state has$8 billion in a rainy day

account. Brown has promoted this

savings kitty to blunt wideswings

in tax collections, though a thor-

ough rewrite of revenue rules would

be better. Also, inNovember voters

approved a tobacco tax and an ex-

tension of an extra tax on the

wealthy. The timing and impact of

federal health care cuts isfar from

certain withRepublicans feuding

and noclarity about whatmight

replace the plan.

But for now, California is living in

limbo,“riding the tiger” of an un-

predictable taxsystem, as Brown

said, andwondering how big a hit

federal health care funds will take.

EDITORIALOn California’s Spending Plan

Brown’s budget quandary

Paul Chinn /The Chronicle
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his
proposed 2017-18state budget.

A budgetquandary
California’s budgetdoesn’texist in a
vacuum. Here are the unknowns shaping
a spending plan thatstarts on July1:
1 AffordableCareAct:IfRepublicans
repeal it and halt the money flowingto
California, the budget standstolose
upwardof $16 billion.
1 Taxrevenue:The state’s booming
economy is yielding billions inextrataxes.
Or is it? Gov.Jerry Brown suggeststhe
incomestream may betailing off. An $
billionrainy day fundcould patch things.
1 New programs:More housing?Road
repairs?These plansstalledlast year and
couldgo forward — or dieagain — if the
budgetpicture sours andlawmakersfeud.

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Congress is holding confir-
mation hearings on Sen.Jeff
Sessions, DonaldTrump’s pick
for attorneygeneral.His con-
firmationwould be a disaster
for reproductive freedom.He
voted to banabortion after 20
weeks, defundPlannedPar-
enthood andwas against reau-
thorizing theViolenceAgainst
Women Act.
He is another“good ol’ boy”
worth $11 billion.He cannot
fairly represent all Americans,
and he is notqualified to serve
as attorneygeneral.
Lorraine Lerman, Berkeley

Solar sense

Regarding “Solar bill mod-
eled onS.F. law” (Jan. 9): State
Sen. ScottWiener’s bill comes
none too soon asNASA has
just verified that 2016was
Earth’s hottestyear on record.
California taking SanFrancis-
co’s lead in this commonsense
approach would be a model for
the rest of the country.
The general consensus is
that the burning of fossil fuels
is the primary reason for the
temperature rise.This is why,
in addition to solar panels
being installed onevery new
home and commercial build-
ing, fireplaces andchimneys
should be omitted.It makes no
sense incorporating emission-
saving technologywhile in-
cluding adevice designed to
Michael Haworth, Vallejo

Trump’s focus

With regard to Donald
Trump’s tweet response to
Meryl Streep’sacceptance
speechat the GoldenGlobe
Awards, I really wish hewould
focus on his job instead of his
ego. I would think as the presi-
dent-elect of theUnited States,
his focuswould be on the is-
sues we have before us and he
would take criticism asevery
president before him as part of
the job. Heand his fellowRe-
publicans are in the process of
creating a billionaire boys club.
It is concerning to me that each
of the Cabinet members he has
selected is in someway or an-
other controversial.You would
think his focuswould be to
select individuals with vision
and insight. He is asking to be
second-guessed, and 140char-

acters justwon’t justify a rea-
sonable response to hisdetrac-
tors. Trump’sagenda is noth-
ing more than a four-year busi-
ness plan.
If he wants to run the coun-
try as a business, then Con-
gressmustbe the board of
directors andmustmakesure
that thestakeholders(us) are
protected, orwe will see the
financialdebacle of 2008 all
over again. The dayTrump
tweets something constructive
will be the day I reactivate my
Twitter account.Until then, I
will takemy cues from the
media —at least theydo not
pretend todo their real job 140
charactersat a time.
Joel Mark, Carmichael, Sacramento

All-time low
Regarding “State first to
finance inmate’s sex change”
(Jan. 9): We have reached an
all-time low in societal norms
when a murderer is allowed to
have whatamounts to plastic
surg ery at taxpayer’s expense.
Inst ead of rottingaway on
DeathRow, Shiloh Heavenly
Quine will be moved to awom-
en’s prison and provided with
anything her little heartde-
sires, including nightgowns,
necklaces and scarves. Might I
sugg est a personal hairdresser
and manicurist just to make
sure she is happy?
RaymondMore no, SanFrancisco

Stop Tillerson

No, DonaldTrump, Presi-
dent Vl adimir Putin is notyour
friend, but he isvery likely
your business partner.How
couldwe know, sincewe
haven’t yet seenyour tax re-
turns andyou ha ven’t yet ad-
dressed howyou will handle
your financeswhen you take
One way to punish Putin for
his interference in our election
is to deny his friend and busi-
ness partner,Rex Tillerson, the
powerful position of secretary
of state. We should have bipar-
tisan opposition to this nomi-
nee so that Putindoesn’t get
everything hewants.
Susan Torres, SanFrancisco

Pick Romney

I’d like to help President-
elect DonaldTrump be the
exceptional leader he ’s con-
vinced himself heactually is,
and in that spirit, Isugg est that
he tap former Gov. Mitt Rom-
ney as his national health care
Romney, let’s not forget, is
the onlyRepublicanwho has
successfully implemented
statewide health care, and
assuming the GOP is serious
about upgrading the Afford-
able CareAct, it would be wise
to putRomney incharge of
drafting a nationalversion of
“Romneycare.” Enactingsuch

milestone legislationwould
also prove to Meryl Streep and
the Trump-bashingHollywood
elite that beneath our new
president’s crass, burnt-orange
exterior beats a sensitive, selec-
tively caring, anatomically
correct heart.
Just to beclear, onceRepub-
licans pass “Robamneycare,”
Trump willdeserve nothing
less than an Oscar-worthy
apology fromStreep. Such an
apologyshould be more than
enough to convinceTrump that
Streep can indeedact.
DavidKelso, Oakland

Not even ne ws
The problem isn’t whatan
entertainer saidabout a presi-
dent-elect orwhata president-
elect saidabout an entertainer.
The problem is that this sort of
infantile nonsense is presented
as a meaningful form of politi-
cal dialogueby our advertising-
centric, infotainment-driven
“news” media.
Riley VanDyke, SanFrancisco

Hostile power
The intelligenceagencies of
the U.S. government have un-
covered a plot orderedby the
Kremlin to alter the outcome of
the 2016 presidential race.In
and ofitself this is notstartling,
considering that they are our
historical enemy.
Whatis shocking, howeve r,

is that the president-elect has
consistentlydownplayed the
clear and present danger to our
democracy thatsuch meddling
entails. DonaldTrump’ssup-
porters are asking, “What’s the
big deal?”
The big deal is thatTrump
and hissupportersdon’t think
it’s a big deal. We’re talking
about a hostile foreigngovern-
mentattacking our sacred and
preciousdemocracy in an ef-
fort toweaken us. AndTrump
is OK with this?Whose side is
he on?
Gareth Loy, Corte Madera

Not inc luded

At the end of her speech,
Meryl Streep disparaged those
who watch football and mixed
martial arts. I guess those folks
don’t make the cut in her in-
clusive culture.
MarkAllendorf, SanMateo


“Disrespect invites disre-
spect,”Meryl Streep said bril-
liantly in her moving Golden
Globe Awards acceptance
speech.We cannot ignore the
challenge DonaldTrump pre-
sents to civil society, aswe are
remindedevery dayby his
childish tweets.
Conservatives’ strangeob-
session with“political correct-
ness” is adog whistle for this
invitation of disrespect. Our
society has marcheddown this
path before.At whatpoint will
conservatives ha ve theirshame
How far will theygo before
they step back from thecliff (or
marchover it with people like
Milo Yiannopoulos)? Imust
have faith in American consti-
tutionaldemocracy,which has
survived other dark moments
(Civil War, McCarthyism,
lynchings). Decency, Imust
believe, will onceagain prevail.
James Heron, SanFrancisco


My Internet tells me a“rant”
is to “talk loudly and in away
that shows anger.To complain
in a way that is unreasonable.”
There was nothing unreason-
able about what Meryl Streep
Janet Mills, Oakland


Sessions not fit to be attorney general

Tom Meyer / http://www.meyertoons.com

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