Democrats protest cuts to welfare
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a revised $85 billion budget Tuesday that he said contained “the good, the bad and the ugly,” including additional cuts to child welfare programs, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention efforts.
Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto authority to save an additional $656 million that will let the state restore a reserve fund he said is needed for tough times.
Democrats immediately protested the social spending reductions and threatened to block his political agenda during his final months in office.
“This kind of game playing by the governor doesn’t bode well for success in terms of water, corrections, pensions or any of the other items that he is looking to in order to build some kind of real legacy,” Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said.
The new budget should help the state’s cash crisis. It remained unclear, however, how soon the state could stop issuing thousands of IOUs to vendors and contractors.
The governor’s vetoes included $80 million from child welfare programs; $61 million from county funding to administer Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid; $52 million from AIDS prevention and treatment; $50 million from Healthy Families, the low-cost health insurance program for poor children; and $6.2 million more from state parks.
“Those are ugly cuts and I’m the only one that is really responsible for those cuts because the Legislature left, they didn’t want to make those cuts,” he said after signing the budget in his office.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who negotiated the original budget compromise with Schwarzenegger, immediately questioned the legality of many of the governor’s vetoes.
“We will fight to restore every dollar of additional cuts to health and human services,” Steinberg said.
The vetoes also drew sharp criticism from advocates who said more children would go without insurance, foster families would receive less money and the state would cut HIV/AIDS testing.