NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 29, 2009

Faced with a ballooning deficit and a clear signal that voters won't pay more to fix it, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) released a budget plan that would eliminate welfare, drop 1 million poor children from health insurance, cut off new grants for college students and shut down 80 percent of state parks, says the San Jose Mercury News.

Yet, Schwarzenegger warned that if voters did not approve a host of tax and budget-reform measures, stunning cuts to social services, education and other vital state programs would be necessary.  So, in the wake of the resounding "no" that came from a disillusioned electorate, he has held true to his promise and then some, says the News:

  • The budget proposal would eliminate vast swaths of programs, including CalWORKs -- the welfare program serving more than 521,000 families who now receive $526 average monthly grants -- and Healthy Families, which subsidizes health care for low-income children whose families don't qualify for Medi-Cal.
  • In the prisons, rehabilitation, education and vocational programs would be hacked; so would the sentences of nonviolent, non-serious offenders, who would go free a year early.
  • More than 200,000 college-bound students would lose some or all of their tuition assistance under the Cal Grant program, new grants would be eliminated and existing grants would be reduced.
  • The budget also proposes cutting general fund money to the states system of 279 state parks in half this year and eliminating it entirely next year.
  • Surprisingly, the state's battered K-12 schools were spared the ax, even though they represent California's single biggest budget expense.

While Schwarzenegger and Republican legislators have made clear new taxes or fees are off the table, Democrats vow to push for new revenue measures as alternatives to more spending cuts, says the News.

Source: Karen de Sá, "Billions in new cuts loom for California -- including eliminating welfare and closing most state parks," Mercury News, May 27, 2009.

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