Gov: No gimmicks to fix budget deficit

May 21, 2009 6:33:12 PM PDT
California lawmakers begin to confront a massive new budget crisis, and everything except raising taxes is on the table.

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For the second time, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised no new taxes. But he says drastic measures are needed now. The state's budget deficit just ballooned to more than $24 billion.

The state deficit jumped $3 billion when the legislative analyst released his latest budget review. His recommendation is that the legislature work quickly to avoid making the crisis any worse.

Gov. Schwarzenegger says this is the message he got from voters during Tuesday's special election.

"There will be no revenue increases. It just means cuts, cuts, cuts and living within our means. That is the message of the people," said the governor.

But legislative analysts said the governor's proposed cuts will not be enough to close the gap.

"And we found that if the legislature were to adopt each and every one of the governor's proposals, that 2010-2011, that is the year after this coming budget year, would still have a operating deficit of over $15 billion dollars," said legislative analyst Mac Taylor.

On Tuesday, voters rejected all the budget and revenue raising propositions. But according to a recent post-election poll, it was because voters believed it was another political gimmick by the governor and the legislature.

The David Binder Research Group surveyed 1,000 voters.

  • 60 percent of them said they were willing to look at a combination of tax increases and spending. cuts.
  • 29 percent said the state should rely entirely on cuts.
  • Two percent favored only tax increases.

"They don't trust the politicians, they did it all in secret. Nobody was part of the process and in the end they came up with this convoluted solution, which quite frankly, most people didn't understand anyway," said Marty Hittleman from the California Federation of Teachers.

The governor's latest budget proposal includes a mix of cuts and borrowing.

"There's a lot of waste and fraud and abuse in California government that we have pointed out for years that needs to be addressed before they start threatening essential governmental services," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The majority of voters in that survey said they oppose cuts in four specific areas:

  • Public school spending.
  • Funding for state colleges and universities.
  • For health care services.
  • Funding for home care services.

Those voters surveyed said they were tired of special elections. That's something the governor says he heard loud and clear.

"Don't come to us and solve the problem yourself," said the governor.

The governor says it's time to look at eliminating programs and spending increases created since 1999. A joint budget committee began that process on Thursday. The chair, Democrat Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa, said if needed, they will meet six days a week to get it done.

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