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State Budget Q&A: Answering reader questions

Budget Q&A Government officials and the public today are beginning to understand the impact of the state budget deal reached last night. The deal calls for major cuts in spending -- including reductions in healthcare, transportation, welfare, education and law enforcement services. Times reporter Cara Mia DiMassa is answering reader questions about the budget deal, based on reporting from The Times' staff across the state.

Q: What will be the effect of this budget deal for local governments?

A: City and county governments have been scrambling today to understand how the budget deal reached Monday might affect their bottom line.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted earlier today to sue state lawmakers if they pursue plans to seize local redevelopment and highway taxes to cover the state budget deficit. Los Angeles County stands to lose $109 million in gas taxes and $313.4 million in redevelopment project funds next year. Orange County faces a loss of $89 million to $93 million.

In Glendale, City Manager Jim Starbird said the cuts could result in the city canceling improvements to libraries and parks. And Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Chief Executive Cecilia Estolano said her agency was looking at a $72-million shortfall.

The cuts to local government will not take effect until Dec. 1, to allow the state to ask the courts to validate an alternative that would provide at least $7.4 billion through the extension of redevelopment programs.

Q: Is there any indication in this budget that state workers’ furlough will end come June 30, 2010?

A: Yes. At the moment, the furloughing of state workers comes to an end June 30, 2010 — although it could be renewed or extended later.

Q: What about education funding?

The budget calls for making $6 billion in cuts to K-12 and community colleges. My colleague Seema Mehta interviewed state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell earlier today, and he said those cuts are to be made through the elimination of state funding for new textbooks for five years, eliminating a requirement that special-education students must pass the high school exit exam to obtain a high school diploma and reducing the state’s school-year minimum from 180 days to 175.

O’Connell, who was briefed about the proposal but hadn't seen the actual text, said he was pleased that Proposition 98 — the state’s guarantee that schools receive roughly 40% of state spending — was not suspended, as had been threatened in recent weeks.

O'Connell said he had been told that schools would eventually get the $9 billion they are owed from past cuts, but he is concerned that the details of that reimbursement are still vague.

Q: Is the state still going to sell its share of the Los Angeles Coliseum?

A: Gov. Schwarzenegger's May budget proposal called for selling the Los Angeles Coliseum and Sports Arena, San Quentin State Prison and fairgrounds in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties. (The state, by the way, owns the land on which the coliseum and sports arena sit; the stadium itself is owned in equal parts by the city, county and state--a fact that would make any potential sale a complicated one.)

Under the budget deal reached Monday, only the Orange County Fairgrounds is approved for sale. The governor also will get the authority to sell and leaseback about 10 state office buildings, including the Reagan building in downtown Los Angeles and the Public Utilities Commission building in San Francisco. But the fate of the Coliseum is still up in the air, as other sites could be approved for sale later.

Q: What happened to the plan to close state parks?

A: In his original budget plan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed indefinitely closing 220 state parks, or 80% of the state park system, to save about $143 million. But under the budget deal struck Monday, such drastic closures are off the table. Instead, my colleague Michael Rothfeld reports, only about $8 million would be cut from state park funding. That would keep about 88% of funding for parks intact--and mean that while some parks could close, most would remain open.

Q: Is it true that the state plans to allow oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast?

A: Yes. Under the budget agreement reached Monday night, the state would permit the drilling of oil off the Santa Barbara coast. Dan Jacobson, legislative director for Environment California, an advocacy group, condemned the plan today, saying that it's the first time in 40 years that area would be open to drilling. “Our coast is our economy, and our economy is our coast," Jacobson said in a statement.

Q: Is this budget a done deal or can more changes be made? 

A: The Legislature could vote on the budget deal as soon as Thursday. And there is concern from some who hammered out the deal that it could unravel as interest groups catch wind of its contents and pressure the rank-and-file to reject it. Some groups and local governments are already preparing lawsuits to challenge the agreement if it passes. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this morning to sue state lawmakers if they pursue plans to seize local redevelopment and highway taxes to cover the state budget deficit.

Have questions or comments? Share them here.

Comments () | Archives (34)

Can you summarize the degree to which this budget deal has increased or decreased funding for higher education, relative to earlier proposals by either Governor or the Democrats?

Is the State still going to sell its share of the LA Memorial Coliseum?

How will the new cuts affect my 80 year old mother who cannot
care for herself. She is currently getting help with in-home support services.

Does the agreement include another cutback in SSI payments?

Is there any indication in this budget that state workers’ furlough will end come June 30, 2010?

I'd like to know why it seemed more appropriate to Mr. Schwartzenegger and his Republican buddies to not increase taxes to the rich, but to, as always, take away basic services fromt he poor, the sick, the elderly and children. I guess this is not their constituency, so not their problem. Let's just hoep for thier sake that they never lose their money and become poor, sick or in need of any kind of help.

I'd like to know what these cuts will mean to the community college system, and by how much tuition and fees will increase to cover, please.

Will the State Continue the Tax Credit for the Purchase of a House.

What is the breakdown of the educational funding cuts?

How are the budget cuts going to affect people getting Medi-Cal and/or SSI? I know adult dentistry has already been eliminated, low-income renter assistance eliminated, and in my case they no longer pay my medicare premium.

Are they going to cut the amount that SSI recepients get?

Does the budget involve deporting prisoners who are also illegal immigrants?

Why are Californians opposed to reducing services for illegals?

Why are Californians opposed to using California's resources (ie oil off the coast of Santa Barbara)?

what the heck do the people of california expect, you elected a bad actor, not the first time, and you expect a different outcome, arnie is a shmuck, does the man have any education? too bad the poor, the elderly the children have to suffer because of all the fools in sac-town. cali we are in trouble, time for a total recall!!

Why does no one mention the elephant in the CA tax room: the $48-Billion we send to DC every year in Fed taxes that do not return to the state?

Under President Reagan, CA received $1.01 back for every $1 we sent to the Feds. Since then, that return has declined to where we now receive a mere $.77 for every $1 we send, while red states like NM and AK receive $1.35 for every $1 they send to DC in Fed taxes.

In short, were CA to receive back 90% of the money we send to the Feds, we could fully fund everything imaginable and would run surpluses into infinity. People say this issue is a non-starter, and that nothing can be done to change the way things are done on the Federal level, but that's obviously false as things HAVE changed and changed dramatically over the years for CA. They just haven't changed in our favor.

It seems ridiculous that we are cutting into the bone of education and basic services in CA while at the same time we are sending money to DC that is appropriated to other states to help them meet their bottom lines.

@neil sullivan:
- No, the State has stopped accepting applications for the New Home Tax Credit. For more details, please see http://www.ftb.ca.gov/

@M. Fox:
- The state felt that the wealthier citizens were already paying their share of taxes. All constituents will feel heavy cuts.

- Yes, the state furlough is scheduled to end at the end of the month. However, there may be additional unpaid days off in the future.

- Community college fees will increase on a case by case basis. Please refer to your registrar for more information.

To the comments that speak to "your" SSI - it's not "your" SSI; the taxpayers pay for it. To the comment about "your 80 year old mother who can't care for herself" - how exactly is that the taxpayers' problem? That's your problem. It's not the State's job to provide these services. The State doesn't owe anyone in-home care, home health care workers, etc. Sure, it's nice to have, but so are a lot of things that are simply no longer affordable on the taxpayers' dime. In terms of higher ed at all levels: the State will pay dearly for these cutbacks in the next 10 years when there aren't enough educated workers for the jobs that will then exist; those jobs will leave CA, and with them, the higher tax base. If you think it's bad now, wait until that happens. Accelerating the income tax? So, what happens halfway into the next fiscal year when there are no more taxes coming in because they've been "advanced"? Aren't we back in the same boat? This entire agreement is very short-sighted and I hope it doesn't pass.

I blame the voters. They voted these leaders in and voted for the pet projects under tthe so called bonds.

These kinds of cuts are despicable. Schools, parks, and services? This makes me incredibly sad, and angry.

What about the billions of dollars of aide that goes to illegal aliens. I don't seem to recall anything being said about that?

Is the state ready to except financial responsibility for the major crime wave by releasing 27,000 inmates ? we know that 2/3 of all inmates commit new crimes and return to prision within a year.

It is hard times for people without a criminal record to find work. Excons can only return to a life of crime.

I' am a retired Law Enforcement Officer and still able to take care of myself and family. I feel sorry for the unarmed public.

Weathly people create jobs not the poor or gov't and they can easily move...look at Detroit. We need incentives for them to spend their money on going green! That creates the taxes to pay for our services. What other job creation venture is available now?

How are counties expected to deliver the state-mandated welfare to work supportive services (childcare, transportation, etc.) if the CalWORKs Single Allocation Fund is cut by an additional $100 million?

i read with interest about the small RV camp inside LAX for the airline employees.. Why can't the government set up camps like this like they did in the 30's? One third of our children currently live in poverty.

What happens if this budget doesn't pass? What exactly would a "meltdown" look like?

When is the State going to deal with the illegals and the amount of tax dollars they cost the state in education, health and wlelfare cost so that the lagal citizens who need this assistance do not have to suffer cuts. Our state and country simply cannot afford to take care of those here illegally.

I thought that the state is going to have a audit on the people who collect welfare fraud, compare if they collect welfare in other counties, and see and double check all "caregivers". What happened to this idea that maybe with the monies saved, it could go to needed education or more police? Let me know!!!

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