Schwarzenegger calls again for welfare elimination, more cutbacks
Declaring the state's finances in a state of emergency, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday called for deep cutbacks in state spending in a special legislative session, proposing again the elimination of the state's welfare program.
The governor also proposed to eliminate state-supported child-care programs, to cut cash grants to the elderly and disabled, and to end vision coverage for children receiving state-subsidized healthcare.
The state faces an estimated $25.4-billion deficit over the next year and half, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. Schwarzenegger proposed $7.4 billion in spending cuts on Monday.
"The longer we wait, the harder it will get," Schwarzenegger said at an afternoon news conference.
He also revived two controversial highway proposals: to install automated cameras to ticket speeding drivers and to convert state-owned road signs that alert drivers when children are abducted into flashing electronic billboards.
Democrats, who have a majority in the Legislature, were quick to dismiss the package.
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement: “The governor will have a difficult time convincing the Legislature to approve his proposal given the fact that it doesn't address the entire problem, doesn't create jobs and is in fact a rehash of proposals we have already considered and rejected."
Many of the governor's proposals are similar to the austere budget plans he unveiled last May. Negotiations over those proposals led to this summer's and fall’s 100-day budget standoff, the longest in state history.
Republicans urged quick action nonetheless. "There is little time to waste," said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga). "We have yet another budget crisis to tackle."
But Democrats seemed more than willing to wait until the GOP governor would be replaced by Democrat Jerry Brown in January.
-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento