Schwarzenegger Backs Down on State Parks Threat in 'Plan B'
With the new fiscal year looming on Wednesday and Democrats refusing to cut programs in their entirety, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday presented his budget Plan B. In it, he backed off from eliminating "welfare assistance, health care for poor children, and financial aid for college students," according to John Myers of KQED.
Also in Plan B is keeping state parks open by finding money elsewhere, which would not be from the proposed annual $15 vehicle license fee idea because he vowed to veto any tax and fee increases. On Friday, LAist exposed a letter from the federal government to Schwarzenegger explaining the legal consequences of closing some parks, which by contract must stay open to the public in perpetuity.
Instead of raising taxes through cigarettes and oil, Schwarzenegger wants to revisit a plan to suspend Prop 1a money designated for local governments, a $2 billion savings for the state that leaves local politicians gravely concerned. He also still wants to reduce state worker pay by 5 percent, but has agreed with a portion of the Democratic proposal that saves $1 billion by shifting state worker paychecks by one day.
Like the Assembly on Sunday, the Senate passed the Democratic version of the budget Monday--tax and fee increases abound--which has will be vetoed by Schwarzenegger. "I won't sign a budget that raises taxes," the Governor tweeted. "I'd like to hear the legislature explain why they're doing drills the day before our deadline." Later in the day, he likened the futile actions to kabuki theatre.
Not seeing a budget passed by tonight, Democrats want a $5 billion stopgap proposal to help smooth things over as talks continue. Republicans, however, want the budget finished in one full swoop. If no solution is found by midnight, IOUs will be sent out Thursday in lieu of bill payments and the state could lose another $3 billion, which has Myers postulating this sentiment: when $3 billion becomes (almost) more important than $24 billion.