Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to prioritize debt reduction and savings in the 2014-15 state budget instead of restoring a decade of draconian cuts in education, infrastructure and the safety is the wrong direction according to young voters, voters of color, low-income voters, immigrants and new and occasional voters from across the state, announced Anthony Thigpenn, president of California Calls today.
From May 15 to June 3, nearly 700 grassroots leaders and volunteers from California Calls, a statewide alliance of 31 community organizations focused on voter engagement and education on tax and budget policy issues, contacted 94,193 voters by phone and door-to-door. 75,601 (80%) voters expressed support for investing $5 billion more for education and services over savings and debt reduction.
“For the first time in many years California has the opportunity to reinvest in education, infrastructure and the safety net. Sadly, the current California Budget suggests that we accept the current low levels of spending as the “new normal.” Governor Brown’s budget ignores the damage that has taken toll on California communities over the last ten years,” said Thigpenn.
Voters responded in support of a long-term plan that will:
- Create greater balance between saving money for a rainy day or paying down debts with funding communities most in need, by increasing funds for long-term care, the safety net, education, and ensuring health access for the remaining uninsured.
- Stop prison expansion and fund programs that create opportunity, increase safety and reduce recidivism.
- Increase revenues to restore funding for critical services by closing corporate tax loopholes.
The increase in revenue for the state is in large part due to new funds from Proposition 30. California Calls Action Fund, the sister organization of the grassroots alliance, played a key role in turning out 440,000 new and infrequent voters in low-income communities in 2012 that provided strong support for Proposition 30. This emerging electorate, voters who better represent the population of California, is now supporting the call for California to prioritize $5 billion to restore funding for education and critical services.
“Budget cuts are still hurting everyone in my community, especially the elderly” said Arie Horton, a homecare worker from San Bernardino who recently had to leave the field due to cuts in in home supportive services, and take on two jobs to pay her bills. “Many of my elderly patients could not afford in-home care anymore, and many others were struggling to afford the daily medications they needed.”
In a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, 45% of voters said they disapprove of how Governor Brown is handling efforts to address the conditions of over 9 million Californians living in poverty. This poll and the results from the California Calls survey indicate a growing resolve among voters to restore the decade of cuts to education and the safety net.
California Calls contacted voters in 12 diverse counties throughout the state, which include the cities of Los Angeles, Chula Vista, San Diego, Fresno, Coachella, Bakersfield, San Bernardino, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Perris, and Ontario.
California Calls is a growing alliance of 31 grassroots, community-based organizations spanning urban, rural and suburban counties across the state. We engage, educate and motivate new and infrequent voters among young people, from communities of color, and from poor and working class neighborhoods to make California’s electorate reflect our state’s diverse population. Through our bottom-up approach, we are organizing voters most impacted by budget cuts and deteriorating public services in support of systemic, progressive solutions to our state’s fiscal crisis. Working together, and including those who are often left out of policy decisions, we believe we can reclaim the California Dream of equality, opportunity and prosperity for all Californians.