California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to trim more than five billion dollars in spending by dismantling or drastically curtailing state programs, a newspaper report said on Wednesday.
The cuts would affect health care, higher education, welfare, parks, AIDS treatment and counseling, and prisoner rehabilitation, the Los Angeles Times said.
The cuts came atop other severe spending reductions in a separate 16-billion-dollar plan that the governor unveiled two weeks ago.
The governor would propose another three billion dollars in cuts by the end of the week to address a projected 24.3-billion-dollar budget shortfall, the paper said, citing the governor's aides.
California lawmakers are currently debating the governor's plan.
"It shocks the conscience that we have to throw sick children off of welfare to satisfy Wall Street," said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, the budget committee chairwoman. "This used to be the Golden State, and now it is a sorry state and it is not my California."
Assemblyman Roger Niello said the state must face the situation as it is. "We are being driven by an economy that has absolutely collapsed," said Niello, the committee's vice chairman. "This is nobody's vision of where we wanted to be."
In a related development, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to the state's capital Sacramento along with other officials on Wednesday to denounce Schwarzenegger's bid to borrow two billion dollars from local governments.
Schwarzenegger defended his plan, saying voters demanded the reductions by rejecting a slate of ballot measures last week that would have raised 5.8 billion dollars to fill the budget gap.
Earlier, he had told a group of small-business leaders in Sacramento that the state would "face catastrophic consequences," meaning that the government could become insolvent unless he and lawmakers dramatically scaled back state programs.
"Behind every one of those dollars that we cut there are real faces," the governor said. "I know that that could mean potentially that now Alzheimer's patients will not get this in-home service that they deserve ... But you know something? Even though those are tough choices, what is the alternative?"
The governor's plan would take 201 million dollars from Californians seeking higher education by eliminating new cash grants and increased awards in the CalGrant program, and it would slice 750 million more from state college and university budgets.