Schwarzenegger pleas for quick budget deal


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"No more furloughs! No more furloughs!" a crowd chanted outside the State Capitol where no one is happy about the Governor's push for sweeping budget cuts that hurt core services.

Inside the Capitol, in a rare mid-year joint session, Governor Schwarzenegger urged lawmakers to solve the state's financial crisis quickly to keep California from going bankrupt this summer, even if that means eliminating what Sacramento can provide to ordinary citizens in terms of welfare and other social safety nets.

"I see the pain in their eyes and I hear the fear in their voice. And, I hear the demonstrations outside the Capitol. It's an awful feeling. But we have no choice. Our wallet is empty. Our bank is closed and our credit is dried up," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Martha Cobos watched the speech with other parents. The Governor's proposed cuts would mean less help for her twins who have autism.

"The truth is that he doesn't understand. He doesn't realize how big it's going to be, the damage for all these poor people and disabled people," she said.

Budget talks have to be re-opened because the spending plan Governor Schwarzenegger signed just four months ago has fallen apart. Tax revenue continues to free-fall and the new tax hikes had overly-optimistic assumptions. State revenues are back to 2003 levels.

Democrats, who are usually resistant to deep cuts in social programs vow they will find another alternative.

"Recognizing that we do have to make serious cuts, but not accepting that in this crisis, we have to eliminate programs completely," said Speaker Karen Bass.

Despite the doom and gloom, the Governor tried to be hopeful, saying this is an opportunity to consolidate state government and make it run more efficiently. Already, legislative leaders met with the Governor just hours after the speech to start tackling the new $24 billion deficit.

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