Dour governor pitches deep cuts

MAY 14, 2010

By STEVEN GREENHUT

At a press conference at 1 pm today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a May budget revise that attempts to close a nearly $20 billion budget gap by slashing state welfare programs while maintaining current-year level funding for public schools and even increasing funding for higher education. The governor, in a dour mood, blamed a broken budget system for the tough choices his administration has made.

“The budget should be a reflection of what we in California value most,” he said. This budget does not reflect these values but “we have no choice but to call for the elimination of valuable programs.” The governor pointed to the global economic crisis, which he described as the worst one since the Great Depression. But he focused his ire on a Democratic-controlled Legislature that ignored most of his administration’s proposed budget cuts and which will not embrace reforms that tie budget growth to population and inflation. Instead, the state is on a roller-coaster — as revenues go up and down based on capital gains revenues.

The governor criticized special interests that scream that he is balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, yet who eagerly lobby for additional spending programs during good times that require these cuts when the market goes down. Those special interests also demand higher taxes — something the governor said the state already tried last year. His goal, he said during the question and answer period, is to foster economic growth so that a rebounding economy creates the new revenue that funds these programs.

Meanwhile, angry public employees from the Service Employees’ International Union’s United Health Care workers picketed outside the Secretary of State building and screamed, “We aren’t taking this no more.”

The governor repeatedly mentioned the need for pension reform, noting that the state contribution to backfill generous guaranteed pension deals for SEIU and other employees is crowding out other programs. He said that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has demanded an extra $600 million from the state this year — and that the state’s pension contribution’s have gone from $150 million to $3 billion over 10 years.

Here is the Assembly Republican response:

“The Governor’s May Revise lays out a blueprint to close a $19.1 billion budget deficit with no new taxes.  This is a serious spending plan that prioritizes funding and makes difficult but necessary decisions.  Rather than Democrats scrapping this plan and writing a new one that adds spending and taxes, the Legislature should use this plan as the foundation for the final budget,” said Republican Assembly Leader Martin Garrick of Solana Beach.  “New tax increases are off the table with Republicans, no matter how well they are disguised.  Democrats need to join Republicans and act on these spending cuts with urgency.  The clock is ticking for a responsible, on time budget with no new taxes. ”

“There are many government programs that need to be reduced because we simply can’t afford to keep up this spending pace with a $19.1 billion deficit,” said Assembly Budget vice chairman Jim Nielson, R-Gerber. ” We cannot continue California-only health and welfare programs that are not required by the federal government.  We need to look at corrections spending to bring down inmate healthcare costs, and explore whether we can ensure justice and protect the public while housing lower-level inmates for less.  Further reductions in spending on the state workforce are unavoidable.”

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, per the Sacramento Bee, made the following response: “We will not pass a budget that eliminates Cal-WORKS. Outright. We will not be party to devastating children and families. Period. It’s not why we came here, it’s not what we believe in.” Assembly Speaker John Perez said, “The governor’s suggestions are clearly more reflective of a hyper-partisan political agenda than in finding real solutions to our problems. Putting Californians back to work is the fundamental priority for Californians, and we do not have the luxury of another bruising summer of ideological warfare.”

This should be a long hot summer.

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  1. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 15 May, 2010, 05:36

    Serious spending plan? OK class, let’s review.

    1. At a time when our goal is to shrink the welfare rolls and get people back to work, our governor eliminates CalWORKS, the only effective program we have to get people off of welfare and back to work. So we will now be the ONLY state in the union without a welfare-to-work program and will lose billions of federal dollars because of it. Congratulations, Mississippi, you are now a progressive state!

    2. Last year, the governor tried to cut the cost-effective In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which costs taxpayers five times LESS than nursing home care. The courts shot him down, pointing out that these cuts violate a number of Federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. So what does he propose this year? That’s right, class, more IHSS cuts.

    3. Once again, the governor proposes a cuts-only budget that will be DOA. Trying to solve the budget problem with cuts alone is like trying to fight with one hand tied behind your back.

    In conclusion, remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to be different.

    Reply this comment
  2. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 16 May, 2010, 08:55

    This isn’t from San Francisco, or LA, or Sacramento, it’s from FRESNO. and it is right on target:

    “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says state budgets are supposed to reflect our collective values. But the vision in the revised budget he proposed on Friday to theoretically close a $19.1 billion budget gap is not the California we know.

    “The governor proposes to cut aid for the weak, the poor and the unpopular. He proposes to reduce or eliminate help for developmentally disabled, mentally ill, children of mothers on the skids, and elderly people who need help to stay in their apartments and not end up in nursing homes.”

    The Rabid Right refuses to acknowledge that this budget will hurt real people.

    Reply this comment
  3. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 07:47

    Steve-the-trough-feeder-fromsacto with more spin from the public unions.

    How about this steve, we stop comping GED gov employees like cop, ff and prison guard $200K per year…. or maybe we make teachers, who are averaging $107K per year in comp, work more than a part time 37 weeks per year.

    This isn’t a Cadillac workfare gift for gov employees paid for by the private sector who comp 50% less……

    Reply this comment
  4. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 May, 2010, 08:32

    I always suspected that OCO and Johnny Blaze were one in the same person. Nice to see you staying on your wingnut talking points here, Johnny….

    Reply this comment
  5. MIchael Fuss
    MIchael Fuss 18 May, 2010, 08:36

    Automatic reductions in public employee pay would go along way to fix this problem, which is why it was written into the proposaed ballot measure being worked on by the legislative counsel’s office presently. The original draft can be seen at http://cavoteonpublicemployeepay.org/ . Don’t expect too much from the elected officals who need union donations to fund their races. The voters have to do this one themselves.

    Reply this comment
  6. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 18 May, 2010, 09:03

    Talk about spin. Notice how OCO changes the subject from the poor and sick to “200K prison guards”. Notice how he/she ignores the fact that the governor’s budget will deprive hundreds of thousands of elderly, blind and disabled people of homecare benefits, will close off the only effective program we have to move people from welfare to work, and will cost the state billions of dollars in federal matching funds.

    OK, OCO, how about a major reduction in spending on prisons, including reducing pay for prison guards, to help during the budget deficit?

    No? I didn’t think so. As the Fresno Bee says, you and Arnold would rather
    hurt the weak, the poor and the unpopular.

    Finally, I am always amazed at how the greedy pig right-wingers accuse the rest of us of being “trough-feeders.”

    Reply this comment
  7. SEESAW
    SEESAW 18 May, 2010, 09:35

    Skipping Dog, I think they are twins.

    If one will take a good look at GAS, what they see is a self-annointed elite who intends to stay as such in seven more months. I don’t think one can be a good leader, if he doesn’t tend his flock. There needs to be a little discipline scattered here and there, but the flock must be supported. GAS has never supported his state workers–he was willing to make them the scapegoats for a global economic crisis, rather than pointing his finger at the cohorts of his ilk. A good leader would have able to solve the pension unsustainability problems by now–he has refused to go to the table, and look what that has gotten him.

    He will never get away with these draconian budget cuts, StevefromSacto. There are not enough other peon-haters in the Legislature to pass them. Someone is going to have to come up with a way to get more taxes.

    OCO is obsessed with hating people who belong to unions. He just doesn’t get it. Whether or not any public worker is a union member, has no bearing on anything, as far as the state budget goes. If the leaders are not bargaining with the union leaders themselves, they will have to bargain with the employee groups who are not unionized. They all have the same goals–a decent standard of living.

    Reply this comment
  8. Russell
    Russell 18 May, 2010, 09:37

    Cuts in worthwhile social welfare programs can be directly tied to the obscene demands of public sector union – particularly the obscene pensions. CFFR estimates that reducing pensions to a reasonable level – something closer to but still better than most in the private sector can expect to receive – would save the State $500 billion dollars over the next 30 years. That is a significant amount of money – even in our fiscally out of control State. These changes would not impact anyone working now – and would still leave public sector workers with generous retirement packages – but there seem no end to Union greed. Our problem is one of Public Sector Union greed – pure and simple!

    Reply this comment
  9. SEESAW
    SEESAW 18 May, 2010, 10:42

    CFFR is not the ultimate authority. The principals need to solve the problem, and it can be done. They need to go to the table.

    Reply this comment
  10. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 10:59

    I think skipping dog and seesaw are twins, except there is not enough brain power for two people 🙂

    Reply this comment
  11. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 11:03

    OCO is obsessed with hating people who belong to unions. He just doesn’t get it.
    ==================
    Yes, you are 100% correct-I am obessed with PUBLIC employee unions (not private sector unions and not “hating” either) who pull scams and try to rip off the hard working middle class.

    Thank you Captain Obvious.

    What are you going to tell us next, that cops and ff’s die 5 years after retiring so they deserve $5 million pensions? Or that they ‘”earned” these retroactive gifts from the politicians???

    Please!

    The ONLY ones who do not get it are the public employee unionss riding the taxpayer gravy train off the tracks.

    Reply this comment
  12. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 11:07

    StevefromSacto says:
    May 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

    OK, OCO, how about a major reduction in spending on prisons, including reducing pay for prison guards, to help during the budget deficit?
    ================
    Im backing you 100% here. The prison scam is out of control. Too many minor, non violent crimes getting multi-year state pen sentences when they should not be.

    Way to many prisons. Way too few alternatives to prison for non violent offenders

    The prison guards-way over comped. I would cut those areas ahead of the poor 10 times out of 10.

    Congrats-we have reached common ground on an issue- a first.

    Reply this comment
  13. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 18 May, 2010, 11:10

    First of all, Russell, thank you for acknowledging the existance of “worthwhile social welfare programs.” Most of the right-wingers on this blog won’t even admit that.

    But you think it’s OK for the governor to hold poor and sick Californians hostage in his fight with public employees? So what if they go without care or can’t get off welfare. Doesn’t matter if schools and parks are forced to close. If you’r poor and sick, you don’t matter and can be used as a pawn by the governor and his right-wing allies. THAT is obscene.

    Where I take issue with you is your belief that cuts in worthwhile social programs are the only budget alternative we have. It isn’t.

    The Rabid Right has been crystal clear in its position: It would rather deprive an elderly Alzheimer’s patient of homecare than make BP (with its $25 BILLION in earnings last year) pay the same oil extraction tax in California than it does in every other oil producing state.

    Thankfully, I do not believe that the majority of Californians will ever buy into that argument.

    Reply this comment
  14. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 18 May, 2010, 11:14

    I’m delighted, OCO, that we agree on an issue.

    That’s what happens when people of opposing points of view work together to find common ground and help solve problems. That’s what should be happening in the legislature.

    Unfortunately, the Rabid Right will probably come looking for you to put your “head on a stick” because you were even talking with me.

    Reply this comment
  15. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 11:15

    I’m delighted, OCO, that we agree on an issue.

    That’s what happens when people of opposing points of view work together to find common ground and help solve problems. That’s what should be happening in the legislature.
    ===============

    🙂

    Reply this comment
  16. SEESAW
    SEESAW 18 May, 2010, 11:45

    OCO, I was not a safety employee and I have never been fixated on the pensions of those who received more than I. I haven’t the foggiest idea what the death-after-retirement statistics for public safety retirees are. I do remember two Polic Officers from my former entity who both died within two years after their respective retirements. Then, this year, my former entity lost two firefighters–one who was 58 years old and just getting ready to retire, and one who had retired in the late 90’s. You would be happy to know that the 3% formula did not exist in my entity when he retired.

    Reply this comment
  17. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 12:53

    OCO, I was not a safety employee and I have never been fixated on the pensions of those who received more than I. I haven’t the foggiest idea what the death-after-retirement statistics for public safety retirees are.
    =================

    Seesaw, cops and ff’s live longer than the average person-but they used to make up a million excuses about why the “deserve” to get $5 million pensions, and one of them was they would never collect b/c they die (on average) 5 years after “retiring”, which was one of the many!! whoppers they claimed. That has been proven 100% false by Calpers itself.

    Look, pensions of $50K for gov employees retiring at age 60 or 62 are not the problem, the problem is that the average pCalpers pension for working a FULL career of at least 30 years (not the average pension Calpers claims, which includes numerous “retirees” that only worked 5-10 years) is well north of $75K. And those “retirees” are as young as age 50-and will collect another 31-36 years. They will collect a pension for MORE years than when they actually worked, and they will collect 2-5 times in a pension that what they earned WHILE working. That is ridiculous. And the number of 6 figure “retirees” is doubling every 18 months (see CFFR’s website).

    Steve wants more money spent on social programs, well you cannot do that when ALL the money is being spent on gold plated, Cadillac pensions and healthcare for gov employees.

    Reply this comment
  18. Tough Love
    Tough Love 18 May, 2010, 14:28

    Somehow/Someway, Private Sector Taxpayers must find a way to reduce pensions and retiree healthcare subsidies for CURRENT (yes CURRENT workers).

    Without this, you’re just spinning your wheels….. and will accomplish nothing.

    Reply this comment
  19. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 18 May, 2010, 15:20

    The average CalPERS pension is somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000 a year, based on a 20-year working career. And remember, in some cases, the recipients don’t collect Social Security. So while that is a comfortable pension, it sure isn’t gold-plated.

    OCO doesn’t mention how many of the CalPERS covered employees actually work 30 years. And under his projections, an individual would have to start working for the state at age 20 if they’re going to work 30 years and retire at age 50. I would doubt that many actually do that.

    Are there examples of egregious six-figure pensions? Yes, especially among top management and CCPOA members. Should we cut back on them? Certainly. Should we eliminate pension spiking and other abuses of the system? Hell yes. But let’s stop pretending that dealing with the relatively small number of six figure employees will solve our budget problems in any appreciable way.

    Reply this comment
  20. OCO
    OCO 18 May, 2010, 18:50

    The average CalPERS pension is somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000 a year, based on a 20-year working career. And remember, in some cases, the recipients don’t collect Social Security.
    ============
    If they only worked 20 years under Calpers then yes they DO get SS.

    And 20 years is still, at best, half a career.

    Today people work from 18-21 until 67 to collect SS, that is 46-49 years to collect MAYBE 35% of your highest years salary.

    Reply this comment
  21. Peter Wolfe
    Peter Wolfe 12 June, 2010, 17:25

    There should be no double dipping of any sort especially in California. I had a professor at a university in Alabama from Vermont using his FBI, university and military retirement example to encourage double dipping. Heck no, normal citizens can’t afford it nor should public officials. Social security should be people that need it not want it even if they did pay into the system. Police officers and ff’s are nice people surely but others put their life on the line and have far less to show for it as well. The tax restructuring needs to start with eliminating the foolish notion of L.A rent control measures. Illegal immigration needs to stop with the readmendment of the14th of a certain birth year and other things in California in a whole need to change. I’m a moderate democrat but this is ridiculous to take anymore of this bs crap as excuses as being responsible american adults. I invest my money into California companies and might move there just after commonsense initiatives are undertaken first. Who would invest in a heavely taxed state with no incentive of working other than 75% of your check going into other peoples hands for nothing? I’m going to be a computer scientist by the way from a major four year university.

    Reply this comment

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