Friday, January 18, 2008

The Budget Games Begin....

Yesterday both the Assembly and the Senate began deliberations on the state budget. Each committee held its first hearing and heard from representatives from the Governor’s Department of Finance and the Legislative Analysts, Elizabeth Hill.

Many are now questioning the motives of the Governor’s budget after Schwarzenegger told the Sacramento Bee that the proposal to close 48 state parks was designed to “rattle the cage.” (See below for more on this story.)

From the Sacramento Bee:
Governor's remarks questioned
Democrats wonder if he's serious about cost-cutting plan with park closures.
By Judy Lin
Democratic lawmakers grilled state finance officials Thursday about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments a day earlier about closing 48 state parks, saying they wondered whether he is serious about his cost-cutting plan.

The Republican governor told The Bee's editorial board Wednesday that his budget proposal was intended to "rattle the cage" at the Capitol, but that he fully expects lawmakers to come forward with alternatives – including higher fees – to keep parks open.

"How can we take, as a Legislature, the seriousness of the solutions put forth by the governor if the governor does not support these?" asked Sen. Alan Lowenthal at one of two legislative budget hearings.

"And why didn't the administration just propose fee increases to ensure access and administration of the state parks?" added the Long Beach Democrat.

Deputy Finance Director Vince Brown said the governor remains committed to containing government spending but is open to a "creative solution" that minimizes the effect on the public.

"That's what 'rattle our cage' means?" Lowenthal asked.

"Obviously, I can't climb into the mind of my boss," Brown replied.

Lawmakers also peppered administration officials with questions about plans to release some prisoners early and to reject cost-of-living increases for the blind. Schwarzenegger has proposed across-the-board reductions to all programs to help erase a projected $14.5 billion deficit.

"It may be fair by program, but it may not be fair by family," said Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.

You can download a copy of the Assembly’s initial review of the budget at:

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