Peter Grigsby, Governor's Office
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a rare address to the full legislature Tuesday. He outlined his plans for solving the state’s 24 billion dollar budget problem.
The Governor’s 12-minute speech was part reality check:
“California's day of reckoning is here."
And part pep talk:
I have faith in our ability to once again come together for the good of our state.”
Schwarzenegger told lawmakers the state’s wallet is empty, its credit dried up. He said revenues are down 27 percent from last year – and cuts are the only option. But he also called for reforms, such as using private prisons and eliminating mandates for schools and local governments. And he reiterated his plan to consolidate many boards and agencies.
"We should not, and I will not cut a dollar from education or a dollar from health care or a dollar from public safety or a dollar from our state parks, without first cutting the Waste Management Board and other boards like it.”
Schwarzenegger’s budget includes eliminating some health and welfare programs, pay cuts for state workers and closing most of the state’s parks.
"Our job is to minimize the harsh in harsh realities."
Democratic Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg says eliminating programs that provide health insurance to kids and grants for college students isn’t smart:
This is going to be traumatic to a lot of programs and a lot of people, but we are committed to avoiding the wholesale elimination of major investments that matter to the people of California."
Republican leaders are on board with the scale of the Governor’s cuts. And Assembly GOP Leader Sam Blakeslee made it clear tax increases are not an option:
"We have an economy which is in intensive care. Another round of tax increases, above what just occurred 12 weeks ago would put that patient into cardiac arrest."
Republicans are instead pushing for tax credits to attract jobs to California. Both parties agree the time-frame is tight – and Democrats say they may try to tackle the problem in chunks rather than all at once. The State Controller says California could run out of cash next month.