State budget slated for more trouble

March 26, 2009 7:33:50 PM PDT
It appears the state budget could soon be in crisis once again. A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows most of the ballot measures designed to help the state spending plan stay balanced are unsupported.

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With less than two months to the May 19th special election, a new poll finds California voters are in no mood to help state leaders fix the budget problems.

Proposition 1A, for instance, which limits Sacramento spending, but extends higher taxes for up to two more years, is losing with only 39-percent supporting it and 46-percent opposing it.

Proposition 1C, which allows the state to borrow from lottery revenues, is disliked even more with a little more than a third favoring it and half giving it a thumbs down.

Long lines at the unemployment office, a dragging economy, and news about lavish executive bonuses may be behind the negativity.

"It's: 'I'm angry, and I'm not sure those guys know what they're doing and I'm not sure I'm going to trust them," said Tim Hodson, from the Center for California Studies.

It took months for leaders to agree on how to get rid of a gigantic $42 billion deficit. Five of the six ballot measures are key to making that budget plan work.

"It comes down to very simple math. If the propositions don't pass, it has the potential to punch a $7 billion hole in the budget," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) of Los Angeles.

The governor says that hole combined with a revenue forecast that's down another $8 billion adds up to disaster.

"Heavy cuts to education, heavy cuts on healthcare programs and programs to vulnerable citizens, that's not what we want," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California.

Despite those consequences, taxpayer groups are already waging a heavy campaign against the ballot measures.

"It's commonly referred to smoke and mirrors, just to get them by this year, one-time fixes to get down the road. But it hasn't worked in the past. It's not going to work this time," said Ted Costa, from People's Advocate, Inc.

Only one measure blocking pay raises for lawmakers during deficit years enjoys overwhelming support, but it does little to boost the state's bottom line.

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