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Weak support for gov.'s propositions

May 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Monday night, eight days before the special election, there's new evidence voters are set to reject most of the budget-related propositions Governor Schwarzenegger placed on the ballot.Results from an exclusive Eyewitness News Poll conducted by SurveyUSA:

On Proposition 1C, the Lottery Modernization Act: 29 percent of respondents say they'll vote Yes; 52 percent, No; 19 percent are uncertain.

On Prop. 1D, Children's Services Funding: 37 percent say they'll vote Yes; 50 percent, No; 13 percent say they're uncertain.

On Prop. 1E, Mental Health Services Funding: 35 percent say they'll vote Yes; 51 percent, No; 14 percent are uncertain.

If the propositions fail, the state deficit will grow by $6 billion. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't optimistic about the propositions passing. He will issue two revised budget proposals this week, one of them based on their failure. He outlined severe cuts in education and fire-fighting.

Schwarzenegger met with 27 leaders of area cities to brace them for what will happen if the propositions fail. The meeting also helped him promote their passage in the election, one week from Tuesday.

"The way it is right now, severe cuts will happen and it's important also for people to know this is not a scare tactic," said Schwarzenegger. "This is just to let you know what could happen."

The State of California Department of Finance has scary scenarios about what will happen to make up for $6 billion in revenue the state is counting on from the propositions.

According to Schwarzenegger, 20 California fire stations would be closed, engine staffing will be cut, and the CAL FIRE overall budget will be reduced 10 percent.

The governor says schools would be hit with $3.6 billion in added reductions. That could result in massive layoffs, increased class size, shutting down schools for days, or a combination of all of those.

As many as 40,000 nonviolent inmates may have to be released early. Undocumented prisoners would be turned over to the federal government.

Local governments could lose $2 billion in tax revenues, which the state would be forced to borrow. That prompted one mayor to say it would push a number of cities off the cliff.

"Everyone here is all out there hanging on the cliff, so we don't want to be the ones to push you over," Schwarzenegger said.

The Eyewitness News/SurveyUSA poll is the third recent statewide poll that shows opposition increasing to five of the six ballot measures the governor says are so critical to the state's future.

"Miracles do happen, but the key thing is just to let the people know of what the consequences are if this doesn't pass," Schwarzenegger said.

The governor doesn't appear to be too optimistic. But even if the ballot measures should pass, the state is in for some forced belt-tightening. Tax revenues are off by an estimated $8 billion. Some of the cuts the governor outlined may be unavoidable.

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