Almost as soon as Republicans unveiled their $22 billion budget proposal – with more than $15.6 billion in budget cuts, and about $6.5 billion in new revenues – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders
blasted its details.
“It was not
a solution. It was simply a rehash of all of the cuts
that have been on the table for months,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear.
The Republican plan – unveiled Monday in a press conference that included
both Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill, R-Fresno, and Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines,
R-Clovis, -- relies on more than $10.5 billion in cuts to education over the next 18 months. The plan would also suspend cost of living
increases for welfare recipients, as well as the disabled
and people on Medi-Cal.
The vast majority of new revenues -- $6 billion worth – would come from redirecting funds already approved
by voters. The plan would divert $3.9 billion from Proposition 63, which taxes the wealthiest Californians to pay for
mental health coverage, and $2.1 billion from Proposition 10, which uses tobacco tax money for early childhood
It is worth noting that Sen. Leader Darrell Steinberg,
D-Sacramento, was the chief architect of Proposition
63, which was approved by California voters in 2004. The GOP plan also goes out of its way to mention
that it would take $550 million from Proposition 49 funds. That was the 2002 initiative backed by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to pay for after-school programs for at-risk youth.
The diversion of funds from Propositions 10 and 63 would have to be approved by voters – likely in a June special election, and would do nothing
the budget gap for the current budget year. But Villines
and Cogdill said the savings from cuts could get the
state out of its immediate cash crunch for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
Steinberg’s office dismissed the Republican revenue proposal
as “phantom money,” and downplayed the seriousness of the proposal. Assembly
Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said she would put the plan under the
“While at first glance it appears this proposal is not
the serious response this crisis requires, especially
because it pushes new revenues off into the future
with no guarantees, I have asked the Assembly Budget
Committee to hold a thorough hearing tomorrow to hear
from the Department of Finance, the nonpartisan Legislative
Analyst and others about the Republican plan,” Bass said in a statement Monday.
Bass has also scheduled a floor session for 1 p.m. Tuesday, reportedly to debate the governor’s tax hike proposal. But details of the floor session
agenda were still being hammered out, and nothing had
been put into bill form as of Monday evening. And Bass
and Steinberg are on track top unveil a new package
of revenue increases later this week that could be
passed without Republican support.
The governor’s office said while the GOP proposal is unlikely to
adopted, it did amount to progress in the stalled budget
“Finally, Republicans have let us know what it is that
they want,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. “But if they are not willing to negotiate and compromise,
it’s nothing but a drill.”
And he reiterated the need for both parties to begin
serious negotiations. “The Democrats put something up a month ago that did
not include an economic stimulus and other things they
knew the governor and Republicans needed to support,
so it’s on both sides,” said McLear.They need to compromise.”
McLear did not say whether or not the governor would
be open to tapping funds earmarked for early childhood
development and mental health to help balance the budget.