Tuesday, December 16, 2008
GOP state lawmakers are calling for cuts to schools and social services to help soak up the red ink in Sacramento. Republicans unveiled a long-awaited budget proposal Monday.
The GOP plan would take care of about half of the state's roughly $42 billion budget problem. It's heavy on cuts. That includes more than 10 billion to schools over the next 18 months - and reductions for social service and health programs. Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines says they also want to take money voters earmarked for mental health and early childhood education programs - and spend them elsewhere.
Villines : "We think we should be asking Californians, there are surplus tax dollars that you've paid, that are not being used, and wouldn't you rather redirect those than pay taxes?"
That would require voter approval - likely during a special election next year. The GOP plan also includes a five percent cut for the legislature - including lawmakers' salaries. It calls for a strict state spending cap and changes to labor and environmental laws - aimed at getting projects underway quicker and allowing for more flexible work schedules. Democratic Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg accused the GOP of posturing - and says the plan relies on phantom revenue that may never materialize. Both parties continue to say they hope to vote on a deal before Christmas.
Democrats have scheduled a hearing on the proposal today.