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Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 5:46 am | Fair 38º

 
 
 
 
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Schwarzenegger Issues Call for Budget Reform

Controlling California's chronic deficit must be state's top priority, governor says in Santa Barbara stop.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped by the Santa Barbara Navy League on Friday to explain his plan to get California’s chronic financial deficit under control, once and for all.

"Every year the budget system is like a roller-coaster," he told an audience of about 50 business leaders and elected officials at the Veterans Memorial Building, 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd. "And the people of California have to hold on for dear life."

To fix the persistent budget mess, which includes a gaping $14.5 billion shortfall this year, Schwarzenegger candidly proposed across-the-board, 10 percent spending reductions for state agencies in his 2008-09 budget blueprint, as well as an authentic reform of the budgeting process.

He said he is keeping his promise not to raise taxes.

"You cannot tax your way out of this problem. We have to live within our means," he said, noting that California spends between $400 million and $600 million more than it generates each month.

Given past experience with Sacramento, elected officials were nervous. Noting Schwarzenegger’s call for 10 percent reductions, 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the board chairman, asked him to help local governments protect "the most vulnerable of our citizens."

Schwarzenegger did not shy away from responding, pointing out that the state has a cash crisis and he is asking agencies to tighten their budgets and stretch their dollars, except where such reductions conflict with the state Constitution or are simply impractical. We’re not taking anything away from local governments," he said. "I don’t want to cut people who are hurting. I despise having to make these cuts, knowing it is the fault of Sacramento. Everything they (legislators) get, they spend."

Finance Director Michael Genest, traveling with the governor, assured the officials the state was not raiding local coffers.

"We’re not taking the money away," he said. "We’re just delaying it."

Schwarzenegger also made a strong case for budget reform, saying California must do three things to ensure it avoids spending more money than it has in the future, including:

• Making midyear spending reductions for this fiscal year.

• Starting the process of controlling spending in the next fiscal year budget by making fundamental cuts now.

• Fixing the budget process itself by establishing a "rainy-day" fund through a constitutional amendment. The proposed Budget Stabilization Act will require excess revenues from fat years to be deposited in a protected fund to carry the state through its lean years.

FYI

For Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s complete budget proposal, summaries and charts, visit the state Department of Finance Web site.

To that end, Schwarzenegger said "the people of California are my partners. Help me get this budget fixed."

South Coast dignitaries in attendance included Carpinteria Mayor Michael Ledbetter and Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett and Councilwoman Jean Blois. Carbajal was joined by fellow Supervisors Brooks Firestone, Joni Gray and Janet Wolf. The business community was represented by Santa Barbara Navy League members, as well as officials of the Carpinteria Valley, Goleta Valley, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Ventura chambers of commerce.

Before departing to "spend the weekend in Santa Barbara with my wife, Maria," Schwarzenegger was presented an official USS Ronald Reagan jacket from Karen Crawford, president of the Santa Barbara Navy League. The aircraft carrier paid a port call last weekend in Santa Barbara and its commander, Capt. Terry Kraft, asked Crawford to make the presentation on behalf of the ship’s officers and crew.

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