Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Aaron McLear says the Governor is looking at cuts that he never would have considered a few years ago.
McLear: “It’s pretty bad. “
But the state’s in a roughly 20 billion dollar budget hole. The federal government is not likely to come through with the seven billion dollars the Governor called for in his January budget. McLear says that leaves Schwarzenegger with few options:
McLear: “The fact that we have not gotten as much from the federal government – from the money that they owe us – for their programs – means that we’re going to have to make more cuts here in state government.”
The Governor had a contingency plan if the money from Washington didn’t come through. It included the elimination of some programs, such as in-home supportive services, healthy families and CALWorks, the state’s welfare to work program. Democrats have rejected similar proposals in the past. Democratic Assemblyman and budget chair Bob Blumenfield says lawmakers have to consider the cuts put in place over the past few years as they negotiate a new budget:
Blumenfield: “Cuts that we make now are cumulative. A 30 million dollar cut in a vacuum may not seem like a lot, but when you add it on to a social service program, but when you add it on to what we’ve done before, it’s a death blow.”
Democrats say tax increases should be considered. That could include an oil severance tax and eliminating some tax breaks.
But the Governor and his fellow Republicans oppose that.
GOP Assemblyman Jim Nielson says it’s time to come to terms with the state’s chronic budget problems:
Nielson: “Today is a day of reckoning. It’s going to be painful, but it has to be done.”
Lawmakers solved more than a billion dollars of the budget problem in February – but then tax revenues tanked in April. So they’re heading into the summer budget grind pretty close to where they started the year.