Budget propositions met with skepticism

SACRAMENTO Hoping to gain some ground, /*Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ will soon lay out the next stage of budget cuts. Some ballot-proposition opponents say it's a scare tactic.

Tax dollars are not rolling into Sacramento like they used to. For the first time since 1938, California income taxes are on track to drop from year to year, setting the stage for yet another budget mess.

The state deficit is already projected to be $15 billion. But if voters reject the budget-helping measures next week, like every poll says they will, the red ink will balloon to more than $21 billion.

To improve the proposals' passage, the governor will roll out specifics Thursday on what the next round of budget cuts would look like using both scenarios.

"People should know both of those things, both of those numbers," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "The legislators should know. Everyone. So when they go out and vote, they keep that in mind."

Opponents of the budget measures are crying foul about the timing of that spending-cuts list.

"Releasing the numbers one week prior to the election is an obvious attempt to scare voters into voting for these failing measures," said Mike Roth, spokesman for /*No on Prop. 1A*/.

"I don't think it's scare tactics," said state /*Assembly Speaker Karen Bass*/ (D-L.A.). "I think it's reality tactics."

Bass knows Republicans don't have an appetite for raising more taxes. So the only options left to close the gap: borrow and/or cut some more.

Sixteen billion dollars in cuts were already made in February.

"People are already upset at the cuts that have been done so far," said Speaker Bass. "So the idea is that we do $21 billion more in cuts?"

Releasing 38,000 inmates early is on the table.

So is eliminating 1,700 firefighter positions just as wildfire season is beginning.

Education will surely be on the chopping block again, frustrating scores of teachers.

"We are short-funded. How much more can we take?" said teacher Donna Milton. "How much more cutting can we take with the children? I understand -- but this is our future right here."

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