Proposal fully funds education, public safety and voter-approved bonds
Senate Republicans introduced their budget proposal Wednesday to the rest of the Senate, and it is a plan that purges the 700 million dollar operating deficit that came along with the Assembly passed version. “Californians deserve a balanced budget, and that is what Senate Republicans are striving to give them,” said Senate Republican Chairman George Runner.
Last week, Senator Pro Tem Don Perata challenged the Senate Republicans to create a balanced budget that refrains from cuts in education and public safety funding.
“This budget meets that goal and then some,” Runner said.
While the Senate Republicans introduced their proposal on the Senate floor Wednesday, Perata decided to adjourn for one day, saying that the proposal needs to be reviewed.
The Senate is continuing the discussion of the new plan, which fully funds Proposition 98, protects public safety, and seeks to guarantee that bond dollars build the roads, schools and other critical infrastructure that voters wanted when they approved $36 billion in bonds on the November ballot.
The Senate Republican budget proposal closes the current year short-fall and further shrinks the structural deficit. Proposals include:
· Dropping the “UC Mexico” program ($7 million) that assists a university facility south of the border;
· Erasing 6,000 vacant state positions ($50 million), while protecting positions for 24-hour care and public safety;
· Eliminating the Medi-Cal Minor Consent Program, which provides abortions among other reproductive services for females 21 and under without parental consent, proof of citizenship, or proof of parents’ income.
· Supporting Governor Schwarzenegger’s CalWORKs reform package ($300 million). Consistent with federal requirements for CalWORKs participants, this reform ceases welfare grants after five years for those who fail to meet work requirements. If the state fails to comply with federal law (47 do comply), then California will begin to face sanctions of roughly $150 million in 2008-09.
“If we do not tackle our deficit problem for Californians this year, then how will we take on a much larger structural deficit next year, and how will we do it without making cuts to vital programs?” Runner asked. “Now is the time to get California back on the road to fiscal solvency.”
The Democrats in the Senate are expected to weigh in on the budget soon.