Saturday, May 30, 2009

More on California's fiscal nightmare...

A broad array of Californians would be touched in fundamental ways by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest proposal to balance the state budget: senior citizens who attend day-care centers, voters seeking absentee ballots, children who ride the bus to school, parents seeking enforcement of custody orders.

These services could go by the wayside in a plan the governor unveiled Friday to slice $2.8 billion more from state spending. The announcement was the closing act of a two-week drama during which Schwarzenegger proposed dismantling many of government's functions.

His new proposal would expand on cuts he put forward in earlier plans to close $21 billion of the budget shortfall as he and lawmakers begin negotiations to keep the state from running out of money by the end of July. That deficit projection has since swollen to more than $24 billion.

Schools would be hit by $680 million in new cuts to classrooms and by $315 million in cuts for transportation. The state's social safety net would lose $1 billion more in funding for the poor, disabled and aged. Cities and counties would lose an additional $242 million in transportation funding.

"These are no longer cuts," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a nonprofit advocacy group. "These are amputations, and the question is, which limb are we cutting off today?"

Several of the governor's proposals, including cuts to schools, would be contingent on whether the state's tax revenues dip as deeply as projected. All would require legislative approval.

It is unclear what tone the budget negotiations will take. The governor and legislators have said they understand the gravity of the situation and the need to act quickly, and they have expressed optimism that they can do so. But in recent years, despite similar declarations, state leaders have engaged in weeks -- even months -- of acrimonious fights over less serious problems than they face now.

Schwarzenegger would save $100 million by suspending laws requiring the state to pay for a variety of local government services, including offering absentee ballots before elections, resolving child custody problems, investigating deaths at mental hospitals, posting safety signs on beaches, collecting DNA samples from bodies, caring for abandoned pets and many more.

Local governments would have to pay for the services or stop providing them.

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The poor have no union to lobby for them. This is what it looks like when the privileged feed on those they claim to serve.