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Longest overdue budget crisis over

September 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The longest overdue budget crisis in California history is over. The governor signed the budget on Tuesday, 85 days late."Being three months late is inexcusable," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California).

Governor Schwarzenegger indicated there was nothing to celebrate on Tuesday. The governor swayed from a Capitol tradition and signed the state budget in his office without public ceremony.

A signed budget means the state can finally start paying its bills. However, because the governor was concerned over state spending during these tough economic times, he cut the budget further.

At a political event, Schwarzenegger described how difficult the last few days have been. He exercised his line-item veto power to cut $500 million more from the state budget to boost the "rainy day fund," which is on top of nearly $8 billion in cuts the Legislature already approved.

"It's painful. It took us several days, and I had to think about it and re-think about it. But we needed the money, and I just wanted people to understand, legislators gave me no other choice then to make those cuts in order to be fiscally responsible," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

California's senior citizens were hit hard by the cuts. Their tax credits were reduced, including Renters Tax Assistance, which gives the state $150 million. The Property Tax Assistance adds another $40 million to state coffers. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which helps the elderly with disputes, will have to get by with $6 million less.

Smaller senior programs also got cut. The Senior Legal Hotline needs its state funding to stay open. During a visit from Eyewitness News, 39 seniors were on hold seeking free legal advice.

"Our biggest item right now is foreclosures. We're swamped with calls ... people losing their houses to foreclosure, victims of predatory lending, folks whose incomes have dropped, they don't know what to do," said David Mandel, Senior Legal Hotline.

The Governor also used his line-item veto on numerous social programs:

  • The Methamphetamine Prevention Program lost $8 million in funding.
  • Domestic Violence Programs now have $2.3 million less.
  • AIDS/HIV Prevention and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs were cut by about $1 million each.
The state will be saving an additional $350 million as a result of an earlier executive order that cut back on overtime and laid off 10,000 part time and temporary state workers. It appears many of them will not be getting their jobs back.

 

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