State budget on track for another mess?

SACRAMENTO With less than two months until the May 19 special election, a new poll finds California voters are in no mood to help state leaders fix the budget problems.

Proposition 1A, which limits Sacramento spending but extends higher taxes for up to two more years, is not popular. Only 39 percent of voters support it and 46 percent are in opposition.

Proposition 1C, which allows the state to borrow from lottery revenues, is disliked even more. A little more than one-third of voters favor it. Half of voters give it a thumbs down.

Long lines at the unemployment office, a dragging economy and news about lavish executive bonuses may be behind the negativity.

"It's, 'I'm angry, and I'm not sure those guys know what they're doing. I'm not sure I agree to trust them,'" said Tim Hodson, /*Center for California Studies*/.

It took months for leaders to agree on how to get rid of a gigantic $42 billion deficit. Five out of the six ballot measures are essential to making that budget plan work.

"It comes down to very simple math. If the propositions don't pass, it has the potential to punch a $7 billion hole in the budget," said Assembly Speaker /*Karen Bass*/ (D-Los Angeles).

/*Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ (R-California) says that hole, combined with a revenue forecast that is down another $8 billion, may be disastrous.

"Heavy cuts to education, heavy cuts on healthcare programs and programs to vulnerable citizens, that's not what we want," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

Despite those consequences, taxpayer groups are already waging a heavy campaign against the ballot measures.

"It's smoke and mirrors just to get by this year. One-time fixes to get down the road," said Ted Costa, /*People's Advocate*/. "But it hasn't worked in the past. It's not going to work this time."

One measure, which blocks pay raises for lawmakers during deficit years, enjoys overwhelming support. But it does little to boost the state's bottom line.



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