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Governor Rolls Out Budget That's Heavy on Federal Help

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 8, 2010
When he rolled out his budget, Governor Schwarzenegger started with the good news. Unemployment’s down a smidge and personal income is expected to be up this year:
“So for our economy, recovery is on the horizon. I wish I could say this about our budget, but I can’t. Tough times still lie ahead.”
To deal with the tough times, Governor Schwarzenegger called a fiscal emergency, forcing lawmakers into a special session to begin dealing with a roughly 20 billion dollar shortfall. His plan includes eight-and-a-half billion dollars in cuts, largely from health and social programs and prisons. Schwarzenegger also wants to end furloughs and instead cut state worker pay by five percent and increase the amount contributed to pensions. And the lynchpin: The Governor’s plan relies on nearly seven billion dollars in federal money– but he says it’s not a bailout:
“We are paying for it. We are not asking the federal government to give us something. It’s our money. I expect our congressional delegation – bipartisan delegation, to fight for California, rather than for the federal government.”
 Schwarzenegger says if that money doesn’t come through, the cuts will be brutal – including the elimination of several programs.  The Governor also resurrects a plan for new oil drilling off the Santa Barbara county coast.  He says the money would pay for state parks.  The reaction from Democrats was swift:
“With regard to the bulk of the budget proposal, I have one reaction: You’ve got to be kidding.”

“When I do look at hi budget proposals, they seem to be a big pile of denial.
That was Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. Bass says she approves of going to Washington for help, but the Governor’s tactic isn’t smart:
 “Typically he threatens the legislature. Now he’s threatening the President of the United States.”
Republicans were pleased that the Governor didn’t call for new taxes.  Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth says the Governor’s plan to let state workers share the budget pain is also fair:
 “There’s 2.2 million California families that are without jobs right now. It’s a small thing to ask for state workers to tighten their belt right now when we’ve already raised taxes on people last year and asked them to tighten their belt...”
The Governor’s spending plan is a starting point for negotiations – and if the reactions to it are any indication, it’s going to be another ugly budget fight
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