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ABC Rues 'It's a Lot Easier to Make Cuts Than It is To Raise Taxes'

Two weeks after ABC's Laura Marquez blamed California's budget deficit on an "unwillingness to raise taxes" tied to 1978's Proposition 13 "mandating an almost unachievable two-thirds vote by the legislature to raise taxes," on Tuesday night she repeated herself as she lamented "education and social services continue to end up on the chopping block" because "it's a lot easier to make cuts than it is to raise taxes" since Prop 13 requires "the approval of two-thirds of the legislature to raise taxes, a virtual impossibility."

In fact, though personal income tax collections "dropped 14% last year," a May 19 Wall Street Journal article noted they "soared 70% from 2002 to 2007."

World News anchor Charles Gibson emphasized the victims in teasing the upcoming story: "Governor Schwarzenegger's dire warning to California: The poor, the hungry, the very young - all facing painful cuts."

Marquez fretted:

His proposed cuts would be extremely painful - $5 billion stripped from education, one million low-income children dropped from public health care, half a million families thrown off welfare, and hundreds of state parks closed. And that's just the beginning. Education and social services continue to end up on the chopping block for one simple reason: In California, it's a lot easier to make cuts than it is to raise taxes. Thirty years ago, voters passed Proposition 13, which required the approval of two-thirds of the legislature to raise taxes, a virtual impossibility.

My May 19 BiasAlert post: "ABC Regrets California's 'Unwillingness to Raise Taxes,'" relayed how columnist George Will pointed out in a May 3 column what Marquez omitted [in both her May 19 and June 2 stories] - that the state government has hardly been starving for money: "If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit." In addition, in Arnold "Schwarzenegger's less than six years as Governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Tuesday, June 2 World News on ABC:

CHARLES GIBSON: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a blunt message today in the face of a deepening budget crisis. With the state's deficit now more than $24 billion, the governor came out swinging, challenging lawmakers to face up to the difficult cuts ahead, and to change the way they do business. Here's Laura Marquez. LAURA MARQUEZ: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger summoned all his powers of persuasion today.

GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): California's day of reckoning is here. Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed, and our credit is dried up.

MARQUEZ: His proposed cuts would be extremely painful - $5 billion stripped from education, one million low-income children dropped from public health care, half a million families thrown off welfare, and hundreds of state parks closed. And that's just the beginning. Education and social services continue to end up on the chopping block for one simple reason: In California, it's a lot easier to make cuts than it is to raise taxes. Thirty years ago, voters passed Proposition 13, which required the approval of two-thirds of the legislature to raise taxes, a virtual impossibility. With the prospect of the state running out of cash, some are asking: Could there be relief in the form of a federal bailout?

PROFESSOR BRUCE CAIN, UC BERKELEY: In the end, I don't think the federal government can turn its back on California because it's so large.

MARQUEZ: Maybe so, but reality is knocking at the door. And there's no way to avoid the pain that lies ahead. Laura Marquez, ABC News, San Francisco.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center