Lawmakers, governor start fighting

June 17, 2009 7:24:18 PM PDT
It was bound to happen. Despite calls for cooperation and quick work in Sacramento, state lawmakers and the governor are digging in for a tough battle over the budget. At the center of the fight is a debate over taxes and where to cut. Governor Schwarzenegger says no way is he signing the Democrats' package which includes $2 billion in new taxes and fees. It targets oil companies for drilling off the California coast, smokers by adding another $1.50 a pack, and drivers who'll have to pay a $15 surcharge in DMV fees to keep state parks open.

"None of that will fly with me because, like I said, it will be irresponsible after the largest tax increase in California's history just four months ago, to go back to the people and say we want to increase your taxes," says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California.

Democrats say they don't have the heart to completely wipe out the funding of some social programs mostly for the poor. So they had to raise money somehow.

"We are all committed to making sure that California has a safety net," says Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) of Los Angeles.

With battle lines clearly drawn, the opposing philosophies threaten to delay a much needed budget fix. An agreement by July 1st is ideal so that the solutions can take effect before the state runs out of cash nearly a month later.

"We're not going to get this budget solved by the end of the month if the Democrats keep running these drills and insisting on taxes and not stepping up to the hard decisions," says Assembly Sam Blakeslee (R) of San Luis Obispo.

Dozens of children who depend on state-funded health insurance marched to the capitol to demand their coverage be spared from the budget axe. But both plans will hurt; the governor wants to eliminate the program which will affect nearly a million kids, while democrats propose to kick off or deny coverage to 350,000 kids. Either way, it's a scary prospect for chronically ill children who know the value of the Healthy Families program.

"I depend on him or her to give me my medications, my inhaler, my brother's inhaler," says Yesenia Gonzales, a Healthy Families patient from Union City.
"And if you don't get it?" says Nannette.
"I could suffer. It could worsen," says Gonzales.

It's interesting that after criticizing the Democrats for the new taxes, the governor's plan also includes new taxes like a $50 fee on property owners for firefighting and other emergencies.

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