A familiar political standoff is underway in Sacramento. As Republicans push spending cuts to balance the state budget, Democrats say the budget can't possibly be balanced without more state revenue.
Sonoma Assemblywoman Noreen Evans is trying to change the discussion by reminding people that there's a link between services and taxes. She commissioned a study from the Legislative Analysts Office to find out what counties collect the most in taxes per capita , and which spend the most on government services like Medi-Cal, foster care, and Cal-Works.
Marin County is the largest tax generator per capita, followed by San Mateo and San Francisco. All of these counties are represented by Democrats who support tax increases to help balance the state budget. And rural counties like Tulare, Modoc and Yuba that are the biggest users of state programs are represented by anti-tax Republicans.
Republican Connie Conway represents Tulare County in the State Assembly. She says she understands why residents in more affluent counties might resent sending their tax dollars elsewhere, but that she and her fellow Republicans are representing their own constituents' point of view.
"It's not just the legislators that are hesitant to vote to raise taxes. The people who live here don't want their taxes raised," Conway says.
California relies heavily on income tax. It makes sense then that wealthier, Democratic counties, like Marin, are providing the most tax revenue, says Fred Silva a government finance expert at California Forward.
"In a program that is means tested where you have a larger population of low-income people then they're going to get a larger share of the allocation of those resources," Silva says.
Democrat Jared Huffman represents Marin County in the state Legislature and he says he is frustrated with the unwillingness of most Republicans to support higher taxes - even temporarily -- to help balance the state budget.
"We're going to have to start shutting down some of these programs," Huffamn says. "You've seen what the governor has proposed in terms of slashing the social safety net. That's going to hurt their constituents much more than mine."
Assemblywoman Conway acknowledges the poverty in her county, but she thinks reducing the level of tax revenues might force local governments to live within their means.
"They would not maybe be able to offer all the services that they current are bound to offer by law and therefor maybe there wouldn't be such a pocket of poverty in California that has accumulated," Conway says. "And that's the problem when you don't have all the wealth to support all the folks, but you're mandated to support them. It can get out of whack really quickly."
Evans hopes that the revenue data will help forge a more bipartisan approach to balancing the budget.
"It's not us versus them here," she says. "We are all one state. But we need the right information to know who gets affected and who pays in order to make good decisions."
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