Schwarzenegger: Budget nothing to celebrate

September 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
California lawmakers are trying again on a budget proposal that the governor says he will sign. Voting was underway Friday afternoon on a spending plan that took 81 days to get to, it gives Governor Schwarzenegger some budget reform power.

Usually the passage of a late-state budget is usually a cause for celebration, but this year the mood is very somber.

The Senate got first crack at the overdue budget. After all the bickering and partisanship, no one is happy about the end result. But it's the only one Republicans, Democrats and the Governor can agree to, so most of the yes votes were done so without a lot of enthusiasm.

"No, I'm not proud of it. I'm not happy about it at all," said State Senator Darrell Steinberg (D) the Incoming Senate President. "But we do have to care about people who are suffering as a result of no budget."

Cuts in the budget were very deep to often necessary programs and services. And the huge budget deficit was papered over with accounting maneuvers and is likely to re-appear next year. The Governor said this budget is so bad, he probably won't hold the annual budget signing ceremony.

"I don't see that much of a signing ceremony because there's really nothing to celebrate that much," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California.

The education community agrees. While the budget gives public schools all of their constitutionally guaranteed funding, it doesn't give them a dime for cost-of-living increases, an estimated $3 billion. They were hoping the Governor would follow through on his promised veto earlier this week.

"The Governor got all these accolades across the state for vetoing our threatening to veto a budget because it was a sham and kicks the can down the road, and that it was this awful terrible budget," said Kevin Gordon, a public schools lobbyist. "What he's going to be signing, will be signing exactly that same kind of budget."

Children's advocates also say new requirements for state-funded healthcare mandated under this budget will result in as much as 300,000 kids losing coverage over three years. But for programs that haven't seen any money since July 1st, they are relieved the checks will start coming in soon.

"But in terms of today and right now, people are getting what they need and the attention and the services that they need, that's needs to be happening," said Jennifer Crosetti, an adult day care provider.

The state senate passed the state budget and now it is on its way to the assembly for them to try to approve it, but it looks like it is a done deal there. Governor Schwarzenegger said lawmakers should suffer personally for passing late budgets. He wouldn't say what that is, but in the past he has criticized the $170 per day tax free per diem.


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