It's a deal, CA Lawmakers Pass Most of $26B Budget

July 24, 2009 7:44:59 PM PDT
It's a deal. On Friday state lawmakers finally came to terms on a complex plan to dig the state out of a financial hole. They worked all night to get it done, but it is tough medicine for an ailing state. Session began Thursday night in both houses with the Senate finishing up in the morning. However, a very sleepy Assembly finished up their session on Friday afternoon. Still, the Assembly came up $1 billion short for the current fiscal year and some are asking where that money will come from.

The thought of more cuts to social services sickens California's more vulnerable citizens. There's already $15.5 billion in cuts in the budget revision that just passed.

"No. There's no more cuts to be made from our community. We can't do it. We can't keep cutting from the poorest," said Ana Acton, a disabled activist.

There's possibly more cuts coming because two of the 30 plus bills in the budget compromise leaders negotiated, were unsuccessful.

The assault local counties and cities mounted against Sacramento apparently worked. The proposal to siphon off gas tax money, totaling more than $1 billion in the current and next fiscal years, was taken off the table in the Assembly. It's the money local governments use for pot hole repair and other transportation needs. Leaders admit the pressure played a huge role.

"It's very difficult to get the votes, especially over these last few days when we had cities and counties all up and down the state declaring war on the legislature," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

The Assembly also voted down the proposal to allow oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara. That would have brought in $100 million in revenue for the state.

"What's wrong with oil drilling off California is that it threatens a $40 billion a year industry. Recreational fishing, commercial fishing, tourism, visitor serving, all of those sorts of services depend on clean beaches and on beautiful vistas," said Assembly Member Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.

That means $1 billion the governor has to find, either by dipping into reserves or using his line-item veto power.

"I just want to assure everyone that we will build up our reserve, we will make the unnecessary cuts, I have the blue pencil authority to do that, and we will go carefully through all the numbers in the most sensitive way," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California.

The governor and his staff will continue to work throughout the weekend to finish up that last $1 billion. He's hoping to sign the budget revision early next week. If the California economy continues to tank, people could be back at the capital fixing the budget again in a matter of months.

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