Like most of the budgets that have come before, Gov.
Schwarzenegger’s budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year is based on receiving money that most
political insiders – including those inside the administration – admit the state will never receive.
This year, the governor’s $88 billion spending plan is contingent upon $8 billion from the federal government.
Legislative analyst Mac Taylor said the odds of the
state ever receiving that money were “almost nonexistent.”
Democrats agreed with that overall assessment, but
were optimistic that there could be some middle ground.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said she is confident efforts
to receive more federal aid for the Medi-Cal and for housing undocumented prisoners would bear
But, she says, the governor’s recent war of words with Washington isn’t helping.
“We in the Legislature are used to that kind of talk
from the governor,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said Tuesday. “I think we’ve built a good working relationship with our congressional
delegation and the (Obama) administration, and I’m not sure why the governor would come in throwing
punches at the people you want to help you.”
Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are preparing
for a three-day trip to Washington to lobby federal lawmakers and
the Obama administration for more federal dollars.
While Schwarzenegger spent his week lashing out at
the Obama administration and California’s Congressional delegation, Bass went out of her way
this week to sound a more conciliatory tone.
In a statement Tuesday, Bass praised the White House
for making some technical changes to federal law that
will help California children in foster care, and on
the state’s health care plan for low-income families.
“I appreciate the Obama Administration’s leadership as we move to strengthen the safety net
for our kids, including the commitment they recently
made to Healthy Families. Our partnership with the
administration was critical in our efforts to keep
700,000 low-income kids covered under Healthy Families. I look
forward to working cooperatively with the administration
on the challenges we face in the coming year.”
Bass would not say how much additional federal money
she expects to help bail the state out of its $20 billion budget hole. But Taylor indicated an additional
$3 billion was more realistic.
Taylor also questioned other revenue proposals scored
by the governor in his January proposal, including
the governor’s plan to save $1.4 billion in state worker compensation and pensions.
“We have doubts on whether that can be implemented,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said the administration’s revenue projections from corporate taxes were “a bit optimistic” and that there was $450 million in other revenue that was not accounted for.
For years, Schwarzenegger has talked about getting
more money from Washington to help the state balance
its books. In a February 2004 interview on Meet the Press, he famously called himself
“the Collectinator,” vowing to put continued pressure on Washington for
But this year is different in one important way. For
the first time, Schwarzenegger has put a price tag
on how much he expects Congress to cough up, and he
has based his state spending plan on receiving those
revenues. Schwarzenegger said a failure to secure that
money could lead to the elimination of CalWORKS, Healthy
Families, in-home support services and other safety net programs.
Bass scoffed at the notion that the state’s social safety net should be linked to squeezing money
out of Washington.
“These are the same cuts that he proposed last year,” she said. “Now, it looks like he’s just trying to blame someone else for the cuts that
he’s been pushing for more than a year.”
This is not the first time a state budget has been
contingent upon long-shot revenue schemes. In recent years, the governor
has proposed selling off EdFund, a portion of the State
Compensation Insurance Fund, receiving billions more
out of the state lottery, and diverting money from
civil judgments into the state general fund.
None of those proposals came to pass, and many passed
through the Legislature with both Democrats and Republicans
knowing full well that the revenues would never materialize.
The result has been a lingering structural budget deficits
that continues to keep the state mired in fiscal difficulty.