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Whitman says Schwarzenegger welfare cut goes too far [Updated]

May 17, 2010 |  1:53 pm

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has made reforming state welfare programs a centerpiece of her campaign, but she said Monday that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to eliminate the state's main welfare program, known as CalWORKS, was too extreme.

"I would have reformed welfare as opposed to call for its entire elimination," Whitman said. "I would not eliminate CalWORKS entirely."

Whitman insisted that the state budget could be brought under control by targeting "waste, fraud and abuse" -- as well as making cuts to social services. That same troika of maladies has been featured prominently throughout the Schwarzenegger administration, though the state remains mired with a $19.1- billion deficit.

[Updated: 3:48 p.m.] Poizner spokeswoman Bettina Inclan said Poizner, too, disagrees with the governor's proposal to end CalWORKS. "“There is no question that we must reform the welfare system. Our analysis shows, however, that completely ending the CalWORKs program would be imprudent because the loss of federal funding resulting from termination of the program would be greater than any savings achieved," she said.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said in response to Whitman, "While we’re happy to have Ms. Whitman’s support in the governor’s fight for the elimination of waste in health and welfare programs, further cuts would require details that we have not seen her produce.”

Whitman embraced other parts of the governor's budget proposal, including Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce state worker salaries and contributions to state worker pensions.

-- Anthony York in Roseville