Governor delivers State of the State

January 8, 2008 7:39:04 PM PST
Governor Schwarzenegger outlined his plans for the budget in his state of the state address, admitting he cannot follow through on promises to focus on education this year because of the $14 billion dollar shortfall California faces.

That's not exactly what the government wanted to focus this year. But he says our state out of control finances have to take precedence. He criticized the way automatic spending increases are enshrined into law without regard to revenue; making cuts somewhere else to the budget is always inevitable.

Governor Schwarzenegger's fifth year at the helm begins with the state in a massive financial crisis, almost as big as the one he faced when he first started.

The sagging housing market and an overall slowing of the economy have meant lower tax revenues for California and a projected $14 billion deficit.

The Governor said more needs to be done than across-the-board cuts to state services.

"We cannot continue to put people through the binge and purge of our budget process. It is not fair. It is not reasonable. It is not in the best interest of anyone. So I am again proposing a constitutional amendment so that our spending has some relationship to our revenues," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) California.

But Democrats think year in and year out cuts aren't the only answer because they hurt critical state services, such as education and public health programs.

They want tax increases to be part of the mix, including raising the unpopular vehicle license fee.

"Today's the governor's new vision is to make yesterday our future - to take California's brand name and make it generic, like detergent or trash bags. The governor now proposes permanent, ongoing cuts to the state budget. In the governor's plan for California, we will always be 43rd in the nation in education," said St. Senate President Don Perata (D) Oakland.

With a budget mess on his hands, the Governor known for thinking big has had to scale back his vision of making 2008 the Year of Education Reform.

Instead, he's settling for ideas that don't cost money, though he offered no specific proposals.

"We have identified several districts that on the whole have persistently failed to educate children. I am announcing tonight that California will be the first state to use the powers given to us under the No Child Left Behind Act to turn these districts around," said Schwarzenegger.

"In a pathetically under-funded public school system, to try to do reform that doesn't cost anything is kind of a slap in the face to public schools across the state," said public education lobbyist Kevin Gordon.

On Thursday, the governor will be releasing actual numbers on how much those budget cuts will hurt.

LINK: Governor's State of the State Web site