Schwarzenegger: Bring on the Cuts

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The governor plans sweeping, across-the-board cuts to state services to balance the California's $21 billion deficit after voters soundly rejected five budget compromise measures on Tuesday. According to the Chron, Schwarzenegger interprets the voters' decision as a mandate to not raise taxes. "I think that the message was clear from the people," he said. "Go all out and make those cuts and live within your means." Schwarzenegger is likely to propose cuts to education, healthcare for the poor, and law enforcement, according to the San Jose Mercury News. For Alameda County, the defeat of the ballot measure will mean an additional $70 million financial problem, on top of the $178 million budget hole the county already has, according to the Trib. The Trib also has reported that the state's budget mess will severely impact Oakland public schools and other local school districts.

Schwarzenegger's belief that Tuesday's results mean that voters prefer service cuts to higher taxes is likely to be pervasive in Sacramento, especially among Republicans and moderate Democrats. And the results of the election appear unlikely to produce meaningful government reforms that liberals want, at least for the time being, including an elimination of the two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget. Progressives correctly view that rule as giving too much power to the state's conservative minority, but the GOP is unlikely to give up that power any time soon. As for the call for a statewide Constitutional convention to overhaul state government, don't hold your breath.

The state's problems, meanwhile, also affect state legislators. A state commission voted yesterday to slash the legislators' pay by 18 percent, which means lawmakers' salaries will drop nearly $21,000 a year to just over $95,200. But according to the Chron, California lawmakers are still the highest paid in the nation. In addition, many of them have outside jobs, because they don't work full-time in Sacramento.

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