Thursday, August 21, 2008

Schwarzenegger Announces Spending Plan

According to MercuryNews, “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday unveiled what he called a compromise spending plan that includes a 1 cent sales tax increase.

He implored lawmakers to look past their partisan differences in the interest of the state, but Schwarzenegger had privately broached much of the plan with legislative leaders already, to no avail.

The announcement marked the first time that the Republican governor has publicly acknowledged his proposal for a temporary 1-percentage-point sales tax increase, despite campaigning for office twice on a no-new-tax platform. The budget plan, his third this year, also calls for deeper spending cuts than Democrats want and a larger ‘rainy day’ reserve to head off future budget crises. He also wants to raid funds from redevelopment agencies across the state, an idea that could jeopardize or delay downtown and neighborhood projects in San Jose.

‘Republicans must step out of their ideological corner on the right, and Democrats must step out of their ideological corner on the left,’ Schwarzenegger said at a news conference. ‘We must meet in the middle.’ He called it ‘shameful’ that California, reeling from a $15.2 billion deficit, is still without a budget 51 days into its fiscal year.

Still, much of what the governor described simply made public ideas that he's pitched in closed-door – and thus far unproductive – negotiations. The reaction from legislators did not offer much encouragement that his announcement would yield a breakthrough.

Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines, R-Fresno, said after the news conference that Republicans would not soften their opposition to higher taxes no matter what the governor says. California requires a two-thirds vote to pass the budget, so Schwarzenegger must win over at least six GOP Assembly members and two GOP senators to move his plan through the Legislature.”

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