DeSaulnier is a co-sponsor of an effort by state Sen. Tom Torlakson to amend the state constitution to allow passage of the state budget by a simple majority instead of the current two-thirds supermajority.
Under the current rules, a minority of Republican legislators is able to block tax hikes proposed by the majority Democratic legislators. California is one of only three states that require a supermajority for budget passage.
If the proposed change prevails, DeSaulnier said Democrats would push for a restoration of the old rules governing the VLF, which would result in a $100 per vehicle increase each year on Californians. He said other potential "revenue improvements" include raising taxes on the top 1 percent of income earners and lowering the tax credit for dependents, whether children or senior citizens, to $92 instead of the current $260 per year.
DeSaulnier said that while the estimated $16 billion state budget deficit over 18 months had been cut in half, mostly due to deficit bond financing, the state is still looking at a $4 billion to $7 billion deficit in the next fiscal year.
Some of the budget cuts under consideration include laying off up to 57,000 teachers, eliminating teachers' cost-of-living raises and reducing Medi-Cal reimbursements by 10 percent to doctors. "I don't think anyone thinks that's acceptable," DeSaulnier said in reference to the teacher layoff proposal.
Councilman Reggie Moore was sympathetic to DeSaulnier and his fellow legislators' plight.
"I spent all day yesterday in Sacramento and I left there pretty bummed out," he said. "There are those in the room with me yesterday who felt this year's deficit could get as high as $20 billion. There are some numbers out there that really scare me.
"As you stated, with challenges come opportunities. I support building coalitions … to give legislators the support they need to find revenue enhancement along with loophole closing."
Councilman Arne Simonsen, a Republican who ran against the Democratic DeSaulnier for the Assembly, was less enthusiastic about the discussion of ways to get more money out of taxpayers. "I love these cover words: 'revenue enhancements,' 'tax loopholes.' From my fiscal conservative side of the house, that's called tax increases," he said. "But I do think we need to work cooperatively."