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Chief budget analyst calls Schwarzenegger's federal aid bid unrealistic

January 12, 2010 | 12:47 pm

Saying California faces “daunting challenges,” the state’s chief budget analyst said today the chances are “almost nonexistent” that all the federal help Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is seeking to plug the state’s estimated $20-billion deficit will actually arrive.

The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office also said current estimates of California’s fiscal shortfall could prove too optimistic by “a few billion dollars.”

The grim report comes after Schwarzenegger called last week for $6.9 billion in federal aid to balance California’s books. If the federal money doesn’t materialize, the governor proposed a list of devastating cuts, such as eliminating the state’s main welfare, in-home care and children’s healthcare programs to make up the difference. Corporate tax breaks would be rolled back as well.

The analyst’s report said Schwarzenegger is “correct to seek” federal aid, but “the likelihood of Washington agreeing to all of the governor’s requests is almost nonexistent.”

The analyst said both more revenue and “very painful cuts” will be necessary to bring the state’s finances into order.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento