May 20, 2009 in Nation/World

California voters defeat slate of budget propositions

Judy Lin Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Pamphlets in a myriad of languages – English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog and Spanish – were on display for voters at a polling station in Palo Alto, Calif., on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – California’s voters on Tuesday rejected a complex slate of ballot propositions designed to keep the state from sliding further toward fiscal calamity.

The only measure they approved in a statewide special election was Proposition 1F, which will prohibit raises to lawmakers and other state elected officials during deficit years.

Voters rejected all five other measures, including Proposition 1A, the centerpiece of efforts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state leaders to fix California’s ongoing fiscal problems. It would have created a state spending cap while prolonging temporary tax increases and also strengthened the state’s rainy day fund.

“Tonight we have heard from the voters and I respect the will of the people who are frustrated with the dysfunction in our budget system,” Schwarzenegger said late Tuesday. “Now we must move forward from this point to begin to address our fiscal crisis with constructive solutions.”

The failure of the measures means California’s budget deficit will grow by nearly $6 billion above the current $15.4 billion deficit, forcing Schwarzenegger to make further cuts to state programs already facing major rollbacks.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, chairwoman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Other measures voters rejected would have transferred $460 million over the next two years from mental health programs to help close the state deficit; redirected $1.7 billion from children’s programs; allowed $5 billion in borrowing from lottery revenue; and restored more than $9 billion to schools.

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