Schwarzenegger signs budget 85 days late

October 16, 2008 5:54:26 PM PDT
After an agonizing 85 days without a budget, the state of California finally has one tonight.

A bit embarrassed and very frustrated, no one in Sacramento is smiling about it.

A signed budged means that the state can now pay it's bills once again. But, because the governor was concerned about state spending during these tough economic times, he cut the budged some more.

"Being three months late is inexcusable," says Governor Schwarzenegger.

Citing there's nothing to celebrate, Governor Schwarzenegger swayed from a Capitol tradition and signed the state budget privately in his office without public ceremony.

Later, at a political event, he described how difficult the last few days were, as he exercised his line-item veto power to cut $500 million dollars more from the state budget to boost the state's rainy day fund. That's on top of nearly $8 billion the Legislature already approved.

"It's painful. It took us several days, and I had to think about it and re-think about it. But we needed the money, and I just wanted people to understand that the Legislators gave me no other choice then to make those cuts in order to be fiscally responsible," says Schwarzenegger.

California's senior citizens were one of the hardest hit reducing some of their tax credits, including renters tax assistance, which gives the state $150 million and the property tax assistance adds another $40 million to state coffers.

The long-term care Ombudsman Program, which helps the elderly with disputes will have to get by with $6 million less.

The Senior Legal Hotline really needs its state funding to stay open. During our visit, 39 seniors were on hold seeking free legal advice.

"Our biggest item right now is foreclosures. We're swamped with calls, people losing their homes to foreclosure, victims of predatory lending, folks whose incomes have dropped; they don't know what to do," says David Mandel, Senior Legal Hotline.

The Governor also used his line-item veto pen on numerous social programs:

The methamphetamine prevention program lost $8 million in funding. Domestic violence programs now have $2.3 million less. And both AIDs/HIV prevention and childhood lead poisoning prevention programs got axed by about $1 million each.

The state will be saving another $300 million because of another executive order cutting back on overtime, laying off 10,000 part-time state workers, and it appears that many of them will not be getting their jobs back.


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