Governor Jerry Brown took the first step on Monday to balancing the state budget, announcing a plan that would slash spending by $12.5 billion.

“These cuts will be painful, requiring sacrifice from every sector of the state, but we have no choice,” Brown said. “For 10 years, we’ve had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth.”

Brown’s budget plan also calls for an eight to ten percent cut in take-home pay for most state employees and a temporary continuation of taxes while the state pays off debt.

“Since it will take some time to fully implement these changes, I propose to ask the voters for a five-year extension of several current taxes so that we can restructure in an orderly manner,” the Governor explained.

Brown said his realignment plan will “return decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools.”

Among the areas hit hardest by cuts: $1.7 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal, $1.5 billion to CalWORKs, $750 million to the Department of Developmental Services and $500 million to both the University of California and California State University systems.

Brown called the spending plan “a tough budget for tough times” that will close the state’s structural deficit and provide a “strong and stable foundation” to meet future needs.

Photo Credit: By Neon Tommy (originally posted to Flickr as Jerry Brown), via Wikimedia Commons