Cities Brace for State Budget Battle

July 21, 2009 12:17:07 AM PDT
Cities, counties and school districts knew the state was planning to borrow billions from them. But Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says they will fight an outright seizing of local funds. "We've been really clear that if this proposal in any way shape or form takes local dollars, we will fight it every step of the way." Swearengin said.                  |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

But, it appears under the budget plan the state will withhold about two billion dollars in gas tax funds. Those funds are used by cities and counties for road and street improvement projects.

Swearengin says; "Cities across the state will try to get a restraining order to keep that take from happening until this gets resolved in court."

Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke, of Fresno State University says it's just one of the anticipated impacts of the long delayed budget deal. Which is likely to affect all Californians.

"Anyone who relies on the state for public assistance, including public assistance regarding health and medical care, there's going to be some significant cuts there. There's going to be very heavy cuts in education across the board. Kindergarten all the way up to the University level." Holyoke said.

After months of stalemate and a refusal to raise taxes to cover the state's debt, Assembly Member Juan Arambula, an Independent from Fresno says it may be the best lawmakers can do. "I don't know that we have much choice at this point given how serious and deep the problems of the state are. I think there may be lawsuits, but it's going to require a lot of sacrifice on everybody's part." Arambula said.

One reason the budget took so long is because the Governor said he wouldn't accept anything that doesn't permanently solve the state's budget problems, rather than just temporary solutions which, "kick the can down the road."

But Holyoke says that appears to be exactly what has happened. "Probably half of it is going to be genuine cutting but the rest of it, is going to be basically continuing, as they say to kick the can down the road." Holyoke said.

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