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State lawmakers take up Brown's budget plan

March 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Wednesday state lawmakers took up Governor Jerry Brown's budget plan, aimed at closing a nearly $26-billion state deficit. Some of those who will be hurt the most by proposed cuts in the budget pleaded for their programs.

The budget contains 20 bills.

The state assembly just approved more than a billion dollars' worth of cuts to CalWORKS, which is the welfare-to-work program, and cuts to in-home support services for the elderly and disabled. That means 19 more bills to go.

Dozens of developmentally disabled adults and their caregivers staged a rally just before the budget vote, hoping to save their programs.

Adult health daycare is slated for deep cuts and many will see fewer hours for In-Home Support Services (IHSS).

Heidi Spaulding is crossing her fingers.

"She'll be losing her IHSS," said Angie Lee, Spaulding's caregiver. "She'll be losing her day program. She'll be basically losing her life."

The state legislature began debating a package of 20 bills, even though negotiations on the budget are still ongoing.

The proposal to cut $12.5 billion from social programs will likely be one of the first decided.

"I'm not happy about it. In fact, a lot of the cuts sicken me," said state Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), senate president. "I can't imagine making them at any other time, but it is a $25-billion deficit. These are serious times."

While a new, voter-approved law says state budgets can now be passed on a simple majority, Democrats want a two-thirds vote so that the spending cuts can be enacted right away.

Though Republicans have been pushing for smaller government, they're not sure about the proposed cuts.

"These are the Democrats' cuts. They're not our cuts. In fact, we would go first at things like pension reform," said state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark).

The controversial proposal to put the tax extensions on a June special election ballot will probably be voted on last because the Republican votes aren't there either.

A new Field Poll shows that 61 percent of registered voters surveyed said they want a special election, while 36 percent preferred the legislature hammer out solutions without a special election.

And if a special election were held today, continuing the expiring sales and income taxes, as well as the vehicle license fee, would be approved.

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