Schwarzenegger: Cuts unavoidable to close deficit

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed the finger at state lawmakers and California voters for the $6 billion deficit in the budget he signed a month ago, while talking to reporters in Sacramento, Calif., Friday Nov. 12, 2010. Schwarzenegger said he warned lawmakers repeatedly to make deep cuts to state programs and to make them early. Schwarzenegger made his comments a day after calling a special legislative session to deal with California's growing budget gap.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

December 6, 2010 6:01:38 PM PST
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency for California today because of a $6 billion deficit. He's proposing drastic cuts to balance the budget.

There are few faces tackling an old problem. The governor says there's no time to waste in solving at least part of the budget deficit, but his proposal he unveiled on Monday is dead on arrival.

Not long after the crop of newly-elected lawmakers were sworn in, Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency.

He asked them to hold a special session to deal with the immediate $6 billion deficit. Even though he has less than a month before he leaves office, the lame-duck governor thinks it's his responsibility to work until the very end.

"I took the oath to serve as California's chief executive until January 3rd and I will serve the people of California until the last second," said Schwarzenegger.

The governor is proposing about $10 billion in solutions and nearly $7.5 billion of that in cuts. He wants to eliminate the entire Welfare To Work program, known as CalWorks, in July, drop vision coverage for poor kids from the state's health insurance program, and limit prescriptions and doctor visits for people on Medi-Cal.

For many mothers, these cuts mean the elimination of subsidized childcare while they earn a degree or get job training. Lauren Fried broke down into tears.

"He's not thinking about the people that he's hurting and the families that he's hurting," said Lauren Fried, a mother from Marin County. "I can't wait for him to leave."

Democrats who control the Legislature are pretty much going to ignore Schwarzenegger's proposal. While they'll spend this month working on the budget, no vote will likely not take place.

"The reality is he's gone in 30 days. We have a new Governor in and we look forward to working with Gov. Brown," said St. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.

Schwarzenegger warned Governor-elect Jerry Brown will have little choice but to propose more cuts as well.

"I guarantee you... no matter how you look at it, you will not find more money. There is no more money," said Schwarzenegger.

Even though Brown takes over on January 3rd, lawmakers have 45 days from Dec. 6, 2010 to act on the fiscal emergency. If they don't they cannot work on anything else but the budget.