Schwarzenegger To Introduce Budget Proposal Today
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday is expected to introduce his fiscal year 2004-2005 budget proposal, which "cuts billions of dollars from public health and welfare programs" to help close a projected $14 billion state budget deficit, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. The state is facing a two-year budget deficit of almost $27 billion, including $12.6 billion that has accumulated over the past three years and a projected $14 billion for FY 2004-2005. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature agreed to put a $15 billion bond issue on the March ballot that would pay off the existing deficit, but the estimated $14 billion deficit for FY 2004-2005 remains. The budget, which is expected to be close to $100 billion, likely will call for cutting at least $4 billion in spending, much of it from public health and welfare programs (Chorneau, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 1/9). Some of the proposed cuts likely will include capping enrollment in major health care programs, as well as saving "at least a few hundred million dollars" by moving the elderly, blind and disabled currently receiving state assistance into more structured managed care systems, the Los Angeles Times reports. In addition, Schwarzenegger's budget likely will call for cutting Medi-Cal reimbursements to doctors by 10% (Halper et al., Los Angeles Times, 1/9). The budget also would reallocate $1.3 billion from local governments in property taxes to other programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Salladay et al., San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9). The Times reports that overall, the budget, which likely will include no new taxes, is expected to have about $11 billion in cuts, borrowing and accounting moves that delay the payment of several state expenses (Los Angeles Times, 1/9). Schwarzenegger's budget also will likely leave a built-in deficit of $5 billion to $6 billion for FY 2005-2006, the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9).
Assembly member Joe Canciamilla (D-Pittsburgh) said that Schwarzenegger "seems to be preparing the Legislature for severe cuts, particularly to public health and welfare programs," the Christian Science Monitor reports (Sappenfield, Christian Science Monitor, 1/9). Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said that the reallocation of $1.3 billion in local government revenue would be "devastating for some cities" trying to pay for "public safety, library services, parks, public health, the general lineup of local government services." Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said that the proposed cap on enrollment for health care programs would "result in thousands and thousands of folks not getting care." However, officials in the Schwarzenegger administration said that the proposed caps on enrollment are not cuts because no one currently receiving care would lose their coverage, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 1/9). Vince Sollitto, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger, said, "The governor's proposals will put California on the road to recovery, ensuring that the state will still be able to provide core services to those who depend upon them. As the governor has said, a bankrupt state can't provide any services to anyone" (LaMar/Hannah, Contra Costa Times, 1/9).
Summaries of recent editorials addressing Schwarzenegger's budget proposal are provided below.
Bakersfield Californian: "No doubt the days ahead will be filled with legitimate debate over how to close California's $38 billion budget gap," a Californian editorial states, adding that "equal attention must be given to Schwarzenegger's pledge to reform state government." Such reform is "decades overdue" the editorial concludes (Bakersfield Californian, 1/7).
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Although Schwarzenegger faces "more immediate issues," it is "past time" to reform the state government by "consolidat[ing]" redundant agencies, a Press Democrat editorial says. "It remains to be seen how hard Schwarzenegger will push for the reorganization of state government," the editorial concludes (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 1/8).
- Ventura County Star: The governor made clear in his State of the State address on Tuesday that the cuts needed to balance the state's budget will "challenge us all," a Star editorial states. Most Californians hope Schwarzenegger's budget proposal contains cuts "that don't disproportionately affect the poor and disenfranchised," and they must "weigh for themselves whether to go along with Schwarzenegger's $15 million bond proposal" and "whether avoiding any tax increase is worth the price of those cuts," the editorial concludes (Ventura County Star, 1/8).
Summaries of recent opinion pieces addressing Schwarzenegger's budget proposal are provided below.
- Jill Stewart, San Francisco Chronicle: As Schwarzenegger begins to balance the budget and reform the state government, he will need to engineer a "detente" with Democrats, Stewart, who comments on California politics, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. Specifically, Schwarzenegger must "help the Democrats find ways to save money while saving face"; "fulfill his promise to root out waste and fraud"; and "emphasize reform" when making cuts to social programs, Stewart concludes (Stewart, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9).
- Tony Strickland, Ventura County Star: To avoid "painful recovery periods" following a period of excess spending, the state needs to ensure that the "mistakes made the past five years are not repeated," Strickland, representative of the 37th Assembly District, writes in a Ventura County Star opinion piece. California needs to "institute a real spending cap"; "rid waste, fraud and abuse from state government spending"; and "identify, downsize or eliminate obsolete state bureaucracies," Strickland writes, adding that Schwarzenegger should avoid tax increases to balance the budget (Strickland, Ventura County Star, 1/8).
The following broadcast programs reported on Schwarzenegger's budget proposal:
- KQED's "California Report": The segment reports on Schwarzenegger's release of his budget plan, which "may be the most important announcement of his political career" (Myers, "California Report," KQED, 1/9). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
- KQED's "This Week in Northern California": The segment reports on the start of "heavy lifting" for Schwarzenegger, with funding changes for workers' compensation and health care (Rasky, This Week in Northern California," KQED, 1/9). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": NPR's Ina Jaffe discusses California's budget deficit (Jaffe, "Morning Edition," NPR, 1/9). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.