State Budget Impasse

August 21, 2008 12:25:53 AM PDT
Protestors gathered in North Fresno to speak out about the continuing budget impasse in Sacramento. With the state unable to write checks, agencies and people who rely on state funds are hurting. The state budget is now 52 days late. Bill Turini of Fresno was among more than a dozen protestors forming a "Human Billboard" at the corner of Blackstone and Nees. He says he's protesting because, "We have limited funding coming to our schools, limited funding to our communities, services for the elderly, services for the disabled."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a news conference in Sacramento on Wednesday that he shares the public's frustration, and chastised leaders of both parties for their unwillingness to make a deal. The Governor said, "This is shameful, and it has already imposed difficult hardship on Californians across the state."

He criticized party leaders for being unwilling to bend, saying, "You've got to be able to be flexible. That's what happened yesterday (Tuesday) when we had the Big 5 meeting. The Republicans came in again with the mantra, no taxes, no taxes, no taxes, and the Democrats come in with no cuts, no cuts, and no cuts. I mean we can't continue that way otherwise we're going to sit here six months from now."

The governor was referring to a meeting with party leaders, where Republican Assembly leader mike Villines, of Clovis, simply walked out.

Villines said he was tired of listening to the Governor. Saying, "I mean the only conversations that seemed to be going on was talking about more taxes. And frankly the Governor was the one talking the most about taxes. You know, when you're sitting in a room with five of us and three people are talking about taxes how many times can you say no. And it's time to move on to the next stage."

To some in this crowd of protestors, Villines has become part of the problem. Leo Aguirre, who works for a social services agency says, "I think Mike Vilines needs to understand that what he's doing is hurting the poor. The schools, the disabled."

The latest plan from the governor would raise the state sales tax by a penny on the dollar for three years, and make additional cuts in spending in an effort to satisfy Republicans. But so far, there's no sign they will compromise.

The governor's proposed sales tax increase would raise about six billion a year; the current budget shortage is more than 15 billion.

The governor's effort to cut state workers pay to minimum wage hasn't happened. The state controller defied the governor's order. The governor went to court, and a hearing is set for September 12th. Which means state employees will receive full paychecks for the month of August, at least.

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