Democrats Criticize Schwarzenegger Budget Proposal, Announce Plans for Alternate Budget
Democratic leaders this week criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) fiscal year 2005-2006 state budget plan and said they will present an alternate budget in the coming weeks, the Sacramento Bee reports (Bluth/Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
Schwarzenegger's $111.7 billion budget proposal seeks to address a projected $8.1 billion budget deficit in part by reducing state funding for some health and human services programs by $1.2 billion. The budget would increase funding for health and humans services programs by 4.6% to $26.7 billion. Schwarzenegger said in his budget announcement that he expects to save more than $1 billion by negotiating with drug companies and pharmacists for discounted medications for Medicaid beneficiaries and hospitals (California Healthline, 1/12).
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) said Thursday that Schwarzenegger's proposed budget is an "attack on middle class values" that was built on ideas from "right wing think tanks" (Chorneau, AP/Fresno Bee, 1/21).
In response to remarks by Schwarzenegger that he does not want to raise taxes because "we don't want to feed the monster" of public sector-programs. Nunez said, "Government is in no way, shape or form a monster that needs to be starved." He added, "I will not support a budget that starves Californians of the services that they depend on and the services that make us a first-class state." Nunez said he plans to hold a series of budget hearings across the state.
Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), speaking at a Capitol press conference, added, "You know, the beast in this case includes the newly born, people who are disabled and people who for no fault of their own are unable to function like those in this room." Perata also announced a series of Senate budget committee hearings to be held over the next six weeks.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for the Finance Department, "dismissed charges" that Schwarzenegger's proposal "unfairly targets working families," the Bee reports. "Middle-class families have to live within their means, and so should the state," he said (Sacramento Bee, 1/21).