Like Governor, Steinberg Sees More Cuts if Voters Nix Measures
In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said that California faces deeper cuts to health, education, public safety and other services if voters do not approve budget-related initiatives on the May 19 special election ballot, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Steinberg said, "Is it a scare tactic? No. It's reality.Â The numbers are the numbers" (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
Steinberg's comments came a day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) raised the possibility of layoffs for firefighters and floated a proposal to borrow more than $2 billion from cities and counties.
Steinberg declined to say whether he would back the governor's proposals, but added that he "would support them if it's necessary to balance the budget and if there aren't better choices" (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/7).
Shift in Campaign
Highlighting the state's budget situation marks a shift in strategy for the governor's campaign in favor of the ballot measures and has drawn criticism from opponents of the measures.
California Budget Reform Now, the campaign committee that Schwarzenegger backs, is airing commercials that focus solely on propositions 1A and 1B.Â
Proposition 1A would cap state spending and extend some tax increases beyond fiscal year 2010-2011, while Proposition 1B would provide billions of dollars for schools.
The governor's campaign team hopes that the shift will help at least some of the ballot measures to win enough voter support to pass.
Jon Coupal -- president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a leading conservative opponent of the ballot measures -- said, "If the message is that we need the revenue now, you jettison Proposition 1A and 1B and say, 'We need [propositions 1]C, D and E'" (York, Capitol Weekly, 5/7).
Proposition 1C would let the state borrow against future lottery revenue.
Proposition 1D would shift funds from First 5, which was created in 1998 when voters approved Proposition 10 to increase the state tobacco tax to fund early childhood health care and education programs.
In fiscal year 2009-2010, the measure would shift as much as $608 million in Proposition 10 revenue to the state general fund for other state health and human services programs for children who are not older than age five.Â The measure would shift as much as $268 million to the state general fund in each of the next four fiscal years.
The measure also would eliminate funds for statewide media campaigns and permit First 5 to allocate funding only for direct health and human services.
Proposition 1E would shift $226.7 million from mental health care programs that Proposition 63 funds to the existing Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment Program for low-income children for two years.Â
In 2004, voters approved Proposition 63, which increased the state income tax on high-income Californians to fund mental health services (California Healthline, 5/6).
Even if all of the measures pass on May 19, California's budget deficit for fiscal year 2009-2010 is projected at $8 billion.Â If the measures fail, the gap will rise by another $6 billion (Sacramento Bee, 5/7).
EndorsementsThe Los Angeles Daily News endorsed propositions 1C, 1D and 1E, writing, "Every piece of the May 19 budget package is like a bitter pill the size and consistency of a bitter lemon -- painful, unfortunate, possibly causing a bit of damage on the way down but absolutely necessary to maintain future health" (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.