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Governor Rolls Out Bleak Budget; Reaction Swift, Angry

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Governor's new spending plan outlines his vision for closing the state's 19 billion dollar budget gap. Schwarzenegger says he won't raise taxes, so after several years of deficits and the worst economic downturn since the great depression, he sees few options:
"I now have no choice but to stand here today and call for the elimination of certain programs."
 That includes CALWORKS, the state's welfare-to-work program, as well as state-supported child care.  His plan also cuts mental health services by more than half. 
"I see very clearly the faces behind those numbers. I know how many people are suffering out there and how painful it's going to be."
The Governor's plan also cuts the state's in-home supportive services program and calls for pay cuts for state workers to replace the current three-day-a-month furloughs. And he wants to shift some prison inmates to county jails. Higher education is one area that gets an increase - and parks - often on the chopping block - are spared this time.
"shame on you, shame on you"
 Outside the Governors' press conference, in-home care workers protested the cuts. Teri Moreno cares for three patients full-time in the Fresno area. She says cutting in-home care will cost the state more:
"I feel it's important that these people need someone to go in their home and take care of them because the state cannot afford to put them in a group home or one of those convalescent homes. That's 4 or 5 thousand dollars a month. They don't pay me that to go in there. Come on, let's be realistic."
Inside, Democrats rejected the Governor's cuts. 
 "It's a non-starter."
Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says the state should instead delay corporate tax breaks and consider other tax increases:

"What kind of civilized society maintains business tax breaks and eliminates child care?"
But Republican Assemblyman Jim Nielsen said the budget was in line with GOP priorities.
"We're pleased that the Governor has not tried to balance this budget with tax increases because that would not solve the problem."
The Governor's proposal is a starting point for talks.   Schwarzenegger called this the most challenging budget he's ever faced. And given the sharp divide in the legislature, it may be the most challenging summer of budget negotiations he's ever faced as well. 
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