(05-15) 04:00 PDT Sacramento --
State programs that help California's neediest residents would be significantly cut or outright eliminated under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's updated spending plan announced Friday.
Schwarzenegger proposed ending the entire state welfare program along with most state-subsidized child care, cutting mental health services by 60 percent and considerably slashing in-home care services for elderly, sick and disabled people. Those cuts, along with others, would save the state an estimated $12 billion in the year starting July 1.
"California no longer has low-hanging fruits, we don't have any medium-hanging fruits and we also don't have any high-hanging fruits," Schwarzenegger said. "We have to take the ladder from the tree and shake the whole tree."
But the Republican governor refused to suspend the implementation of corporate tax breaks that will cost the state $2.1 billion.
That stance infuriated Democrats. Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-San Diego, the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the decision shows the governor believes "corporate tax breaks that do not exist today have more value than the children of California."
While slashing some state services, Schwarzenegger fulfilled his pledge to increase the budgets for the University of California and California State University systems.
Deficit revised down
The governor revised the projected deficit from $20 billion to $19 billion. Total general fund spending would decrease to $83.4 billion, the lowest level in six years but about half a billion more than Schwarzenegger's initial January proposal.
Democratic leaders blasted the proposal, with state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, calling it a "nonstarter."
"God forbid this budget became a reality," Steinberg said. "California would be the only state in the union to not have a safety net for kids."
He promised that the Legislature would not pass a budget that eliminates the welfare program, called CalWORKS. CalWORKS serves 1.4 million people, two-thirds of whom are children. Eliminating the program would save the state $1.6 billion, although California also would lose about $4 billion in federal dollars. The governor proposed eliminating the program last year as well, but that was dropped in negotiations.
The revised budget plan counts on $3.4 billion in federal money and $3.1 billion in internal borrowing and other alternative funding.
By law, the Legislature has until June 15 to pass a spending plan for the 2010-11 year, but lawmakers routinely miss that deadline. Two-thirds of the Legislature must pass the budget, which means any plan must win at least some Republican support.
Governor wants reforms
The governor vowed not to sign a budget plan unless the Legislature passes reforms to the budget process and state pension system.
Several months ago Steinberg said taxes would not be part of the Democrats' deficit solution, but Friday he said the Legislature needs to consider extending the taxes passed as part of the budget deal last year and possibly increasing the vehicle license fee.
The governor also called for a major realignment of government services, shifting some programs from the state to the local level and giving local entities some state money and the ability to raise revenue for the programs.
Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, was hosting a golfing fundraiser at Pebble Beach but released a statement saying the plan was "more reflective of a hyper-partisan political agenda than in finding real solutions to our problems."
Committed to tax breaks
The governor defended the cuts and the tax breaks. Those breaks, he said, would help stimulate the economy, which in turn would provide additional revenues to the state. He has said he would not support any tax increases.
Republican leaders in Sacramento generally applauded the governor's proposal, especially his commitment on taxes.
Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta (Riverside County), called it "bitter medicine."
"The spending reductions are unfortunate but necessary to begin restoring our budget's fiscal health," he said.
Other parts of the budget proposal include:
-- Moving 15,000 nonviolent inmates from state prisons to county jails, saving $243.8 million.
-- Cutting $2.8 billion from K-12 education, though education money that wasn't spent in years pass allows per-pupil spending to remain the same.
-- A $602 million cut to mental health services.
-- A $750 million cut to the In-Home Supportive Services program, which provides home care to 430,000 elderly, sick or disabled Californians and employs 360,000 people.
-- Limiting services and increasing fees for people on Medi-Cal, saving $523 million.
-- Eliminating child care funding except for preschool, saving $1.2 billion and affecting 142,000 children in the state.
Bryte Skolfield, spokesman for the Children's Council of San Francisco - a child care resource and referral agency that helps both providers and families - said the proposed cuts would be "another punch to an already unhealthy economy." He said in general, the state gets $3 from the federal government for every dollar it spends subsidizing child care.
"At first glance, what he is proposing is very dangerous for the state of California," he said. "If you look at these types of cuts, it's not just state cuts - it's dollars going back into the economy through small businesses."
Democratic leaders said as many as 50,000 child care centers could close in the state if the cuts are made.
Worries about welfare
There are also concerns that eliminating the welfare program could have devastating effects on families. And local officials said the proposal would shift billions of dollars in costs to counties and cities already reeling from their own deficits.
Trent Rohrer, San Francisco's Human Services chief, said CalWORKS helps 5,200 families and 12,000 children in the city. Of those families about 25 percent, or 1,300, are participating in a federally subsidized job program intended to pull them out of poverty and off of government assistance.
"You're taking away the safety net for the poorest families in the community - it would undoubtedly result in homelessness and create a permanent underclass with no prospects for families to get out of poverty," he said. "People will have little to no prospect of working - no child care, no transportation assistance, no job training or job placement. ... Thousands of families could fall into homelessness. There are 125 families on our shelter wait list now - we could be looking at thousands."
Winners and losers
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/15/MNO81DETHB.DTL#ixzz0o0FeTCcS
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an idiot.
If we were not in the middle of a recession, his view of things would not seem so crazy. I do think they should make it harder for people to get welfare and childcare as well but not to the point he is speaking. I am one that have always believed that people milked the system but a good place to start might be with the ones doing the milking or have made it a career choice to live on the system. On the other side of that coin, there are those who cannot survive without it. I see this as a future trend all states will start looking at. Welfare was not meant to be a lifelong thing when it was set in place and does need restructured for sure. But in the time we live in with so many people out of jobs I agree with flmagi...
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an idiot.
Eliminating welfare and subsidized child care is not going to save any tax payer dollars, it will simply divert them. Statistics show (and this is true in the US as well as Canada) that it costs the taxpayer 3 times as much per person for that person to remain homeless then to keep them housed. In many cases that is exactly what cutting welfare will do. I'm not talking about the drug users, etc. I am talking about the families with children. They will lose their apartments, etc. and be forced into shelters. The cost is significantly higher to have a family live there. If you eliminate subsidized childcare, you will have many a single mom (or dad) forced to quit their jobs and increase unemployment. It won't work. You'll wind up like a truly capatilistic society with no middle class. There will be either wealthy or abject poverty. This is not opinion, it's fact based on stats and many many studies. It was a huge part of our on going training at a conference I attended last year in San Diego. This just won't work...it won't save a dime.
BTW, I also agree that there are people that not only milk the system, but commit outright fraud. Focusing on those people and eliminating their benefits would go along way in saving money. That should be where the focus lies. And the average citizen can help. I know I have turned in people I knew were committing fraud. Not only are they cut off, they are fined and have to pay it back.
Sorry to keep posting on this thread, but as many of you know this is a topic I am very passionate about. I have attached the link for a very informative website you might be interested in. It address' some of the issues around this proposal that I mentioned...
Arnold Is an idiot of huge proportions....we have a quandry here right now as we are voting next month the new Govenor in, Meg Whitnman is trying hard to get it ..its going to be a big tussle I dont like her either it;ll just be another idiot ....
Frustrating to think of exchanging one idiot for another isn't it?
This plan just sound ridiculous!! While spending for education is a good thing, wouldn't it make more sense to cut spending on the colleges and save the welfare system for those who will be on the streets without it?
I agree that by taking away subsidized child care, there will be a lot of parents who will have to quit their jobs and will end up either on the streets or in shelters.
Then think of the elderly and disabled who depend on the home care!! Cutting that will mean that a lot of them will not be able to remain in their homes; instead they would have to go to nursing homes, which is by far more expensive than the home care; not to mention those people who work in that field and would be left without jobs, themselves.
If so many of the programs are transferred to county/city, they will of course, have to raise taxes in order to fund them. Okay, so good ole Arnold gets to say he "kept HIS promise not raise taxes", but the municipalities are going to have to do the dirty work for him. What a chicken!!!
It seems that they only ones this plan will help will be the wealthy and corporations.
When the crime rate goes up because of a bunch of people out stealing or anything else they can do to get by, I wonder what he will think about his plan then? What hole do we dredge these characters out of to put in leadership positions anyway. I liked this guy much better in the movies.
I just cannot for the life of me understand his thinking. In reading some of the other posts and rereading the original post it does sound like he is just passing the buck. Yep, let's hit those hurting the most...makes perfect sense...NOT!
There is another thread on this forum called "Is This Being Responsible?", Which talks about "...."our museum is one of 10 in the country that will be participating in long distance oral history project with students in Lamu, Kenya.". While certain idiots are going to cut programs for children and the needy, the Government is putting tons of $$$$ into needless programs like this. (Needless in an economy like this).
Yes, we all agree Welfare fraud etc needs to be dealt with, but to deny the truly needy is absurd. Maybe when all the children of California become homeless, they can go live in these museums.
Idiots, idiots, idiots.