Gov. desperate to receive money from Washington

December 23, 2009 6:55:51 PM PST
It's the season for giving, but Gov. Schwarzenegger is not looking for a gift, he only wants the money that California is owed.

You can expect the protests to get louder and angrier in Sacramento next year, because tax revenues are still down and the state is facing a $21 billion deficit and deeper budget cuts are inevitable.

To head off cuts, Gov. Schwarzenegger wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pleading with the feds to start stepping up to the plate with the billions of dollars Washington owes. Or else, there will consequences to the safety net that protects poor.

"California is now faced with the decision to eliminate the entire In-Home Supportive Services program," said the governor in a letter to Pelosi.

"It's important to get those federal dollars into the state, so the state/county governments can provide the services Californians need right now," said Jean Ross from the California Budget Project.

While Gov. Schwarzenegger's relationship with the White House has greatly improved under President Obama, he has ramped up the rhetoric in recent days; perhaps giving a preview of how he expects to balance the budget.

"Right now, I don't feel we're getting our fair share of federal money in many different areas," said the governor on Monday.

Washington, though, hardly ever comes through with the money and California still gets back less than 80 cents for every dollar it sends to the Treasury Department.

That makes elimination of programs for the poor, like in-home care, all too real.

"I think it would an economic and humanitarian disaster," said home care advocate Deb Roth.

Transportation advocates are also reeling. They're upset the latest budget plan includes a complicated scheme that enables him to raid the gas tax fund, but leaves drivers and public transit users in a lurch.

"It means a big chunk of that money is going to other programs that have nothing to do with transportation," said transportation advocate Jim Earp.

State workers are nervous too, worried that their three-day a month furloughs would be extended past June.

If no new federal money comes in and state leaders balance the budget with only cuts, it would bring California's general fund spending to what it was a little more than a decade ago.


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