California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his latest spending plan for the financially strapped state on Friday, and news coverage focused on the deep cuts he is proposing.
San Francisco Chronicle: "Schwarzenegger proposed ending the entire state welfare program along with most state-subsidized child care, cutting mental health services by 60 percent and considerably slashing in-home care services for elderly, sick and disabled people. Those cuts, along with others, would save the state an estimated $12 billion in the year starting July 1. 'California no longer has low-hanging fruits, we don't have any medium-hanging fruits and we also don't have any high-hanging fruits,' Schwarzenegger said. 'We have to take the ladder from the tree and shake the whole tree'" (Buchanan and Lagos, 5/15).
Mercury News: "Schwarzenegger initially had threatened to eliminate the in-home support program if the federal government did not provide $6.9 billion in funding he said was owed to California. So far, federal aid has amounted to only $700 million, though another $3.4 billion is anticipated. If the governor cuts the program, many seniors will be forced to live in nursing homes, which advocates said would be much more costly to the state" (Harmon, 5/15)
Los Angeles Times: "Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal is a starting point for negotiations that typically stretch well into the summer. His previous attempts to eliminate landmark state services have been upended by lawmakers who nevertheless agreed to substantial cuts last year. ... he proposed cutting roughly a third of the [in-home care] program's budget to save $637.1 million. Previous efforts to scale back the program have been blocked in federal court."
"Sandy Varga, a Los Angeles home care recipient who is partly paralyzed and must use a wheelchair, was outside the news conference protesting the cuts with unionized home health workers. She said she cannot get dressed or get out of bed by herself and may be forced into a nursing home if she loses her home care" (Goldmacher, 5/15).
Sacramento Bee: "The Republican governor vowed not to sign a spending plan without budget reform and smaller pensions for new state hires. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said Democrats refuse to eliminate welfare. He called for extending general tax hikes set to expire in the next year and suspending corporate tax breaks. Yet there are reasons to believe neither is completely serious about what he proposed" (Yamamura, 5/15).