The budget deal includes more than a billion dollars in cuts to prisons. The Schwarzenegger Administration says that would involve reducing the prison population by 27-thousand inmates…in part by allowing some sick inmates to finish their sentences under house-arrest. But Republicans balked – saying they wouldn’t support the budget if it included the early release of prisoners. Legislative leaders say they’ve worked out the conflict by agreeing to vote now on the cuts—and tackle how they’ll be achieved later. Here’s Assembly GOP Leader Sam Blakeslee:
“I’m more than happy to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m just glad it got resolved in a way that won’t endanger public safety.”
The budget plan is also heavy on cuts to schools and health and welfare programs. It borrows from local governments and allows new oil drilling off the California coast for the first time in 40 years. The ideas aren’t popular with a lot of people. Governor Schwarzenegger says that’s why time is of the essence:
"Every time you do a budget, the reason why you also want to do a vote as quickly as possible after you come to an agreement, is do that no one moves in and starts trying to derail the budget. And this is what’s going on right now. There’s a lot of pressure from the outside, from the special interests, they’re trying to derail the budget – they’re not happy.”
The California Democratic Party is urging lawmakers to reject the plan to allow oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast. And local governments are threatening to sue if the state takes money from them. The budget vote is expected to go late into the night; the budget package includes more than 20 different bills.