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Governor's Budget Plan Would Mean Sweeping Cuts

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After declaring a fiscal emergency in California, Governor Schwarzenegger yesterday unveiled his plan to close the gap in the state's budget through a 10 percent, across-the-board cut to state programs.

The cuts would affect education, health care and social services statewide. In Los Angeles, they would mean the closure of at least six state parks, and less money for already struggling Medi-Cal health care providers.

The governor's plan would also mean a drastic reduction in the LAUSD budget. Officials from LAUSD have stated that should the proposal go through, many school programs would need to be re-evaulated and possibly eliminated. LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan tells the LA Daily News, "I think what this really means for L.A. Unified is we have to buckle down and really look at our spending: Look at every single program and figure out, do we need this, does it provide a direct service to kids."

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Democratic state representatives are strongly opposed to the plan, and broached the possibility of tax increases as an alternative. The suggestion was quickly dismissed by Republican representatives, however, who made it clear that they would resist any such attempts:

"There is no way to move us on [tax increases]," said Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Sacramento, vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. "We believe this very strongly - it doesn't work. It hurts the economy, it continues to drive the revenue spikes even higher so that we eventually have to react again with more increased taxes."

The Governor, who sides with Republicans on the question of tax hikes, nevertheless expressed his concern for those who would be affected if state programs are indeed cut:

"Some might say that it sounds easy to just cut across the board by 10 percent, but let me tell you, it is very difficult," Schwarzenegger said. "I can see every single person hurt by those cuts, and I understand how difficult they will be for many, many people."

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr