99th Day of State Budget Negotiations

February 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Governor Schwarzenegger said he and legislative leaders are making headway on reaching a compromise between tax increases and program cuts.The proposed cuts to public education are staggering: $8.6 billion dollars through June 2010. The final pieces of a state budget compromise are still being put together, but teachers and parents have little hope that number will change.

"The public is in for big ride because they're going to see huge implications to cuts of this depth in public schools," said Public Schools Lobbyist Kevin Gordon.

The cutbacks could result in: more teachers being laid off, classroom space even tighter and a delay in buying new textbooks.

"It's the hopes and dreams of kids that we're talking about. That's what we're putting at risk!" said Pam Brady with the California State PTA.

But it is the 99th day of the budget negotiations, and the state has to solve that $42-billion dollar deficit. Leaders don't want to disclose details, but they are days away from ending the stalemate.

"Anything that gets agreed to is going to be comprehensive. Everybody has to pitch in. That's the way it's going to have to be," said Assemblyman Mike Villines (R) Clovis.

Other budget items on the chopping block: Public colleges and universities nearly $900 million, social programs at $830 million and public transit at $459 million.

Elementary through high school kids bear the biggest brunt in cuts largely because they are almost half the state budget and other departments are protected from cuts by law.

While at a Lincoln's birthday celebration, Governor Schwarzenegger said the proposed new taxes will save the state from worse cuts.

"I think the important thing is that we go and create the extra revenues so we don't have to make the kind of cuts, the draconian cuts we would have to make when you have a $42 billion deficit," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"We are the future. We are the people that are going to be working. We are the people that are going to be running cities and this country. So, cutting from us is going to make it harder for us to get to that level," said high school sophomore Nathan French.

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