Dems deride governor's budget

With the news from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today that he proposes to eliminate the CalWORKs program, reduce funding for local mental health services and increase co-pays for low-income families in the Health Families program, Senate Pro Tem President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-El Cajon, delivered blistering responses to the governor’s May Budget Revise, referencing “budget realignment” and “restoring revenue” with the vehicle licensing fee.

Reports that the state budget deficit was exceeding $20 billion, with the governor’s proposed cuts, the state will be able to keep static education funding for kindergarten through 12th grade, and will even increase some funding for higher education and community colleges.

Even with the attempt to save education, Steinberg said, “I am disappointed that the Governor has chosen to surrender – to kill the economy,” referencing the cuts to social welfare programs.

Ducheny said, “It is a sad budget day. If this reflects values of California, the governor has abdicated whatever responsibility he had as governor.” Ducheny said Schwarzenegger “refuses to acknowledge his complicity.”

Steinberg’s response included numerous references to “kids, the elderly and the poor,” accusing the governor of giving “$2.1 billion in corporate tax breaks rather than save children, the elderly and most vulnerable.” Steinberg said, “people expect us to lead and educate the public.”

But there were an equal number of references to delaying corporate tax breaks, and extending temporary taxes as Steinberg emphasized the need for “restored revenue sources,” which merely means getting rid of tax cuts – restoring taxes and fees that the governor had cut.

Calling the governor’s budget “a non-starter,” Steinberg said, “we have come to the end of propping up this structure – the government is not able to respond.”

Ducheny accused the governor of not being able to manage, and attributed $1 billion in losses on budget decisions made by Schwarzenegger. Ducheny said that the governor talked legislators into solutions by offering promises, and “we got more debt.”

Ducheny accused the governor of refusing to talk to the employees who “offered real ideas,” and called him “the opposite of business governor.”

She thought some of his ideas were illegal, and accused the governor of abandoning children under 6 saying, “If you’re not in school yet, we’ll just abandon you.” But when Ducheny added “Maybe he’s planning to move to Idaho after this year,” Steinberg quickly said that her comment was not a breaking news story.

Derisive sniping, snide, caustic remarks… while all politics, it looks as if hell might freeze over before California gets a budget.

–Katy Grimes

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