Schwarzenegger calls for special legislature session to address budget deficit

16:57, December 07, 2010      

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Grappling with a huge budget deficit, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called legislature into a special session on Monday to address the issue.

The move was seen as a last-ditch effort by Schwarzenegger to balance the state's budget before he leaves office next month.

The state faces an estimated 6.1-billion-U.S.-dollar deficit in the current fiscal year and a 25.4-billion-dollar shortfall over the next year and a half.

To shrink the deficit by 9.9 billion dollars, less than 40 percent of the longer-term shortfall, the governor again proposed cuts in social programs.

Under his austerity agenda, California would eliminate state welfare and child-care programs, cut cash grants to the elderly and disabled, and end vision coverage for children receiving government-subsidized healthcare.

He also reintroduced two controversial transportation proposals -- installing automated cameras to catch and ticket speeding drivers and conversing state-owned roadside alert signs into flashing electronic billboards.

"The longer we wait, the harder it will get," Schwarzenegger said.

"I will go and charge through the finish line," he said, brushing off criticism that the special session would be a waste of time.

When Schwarzenegger first came forward with the proposals a few months ago, lawmakers gave him a rebuff, with Democrats saying they'd rather wait for Governor-elect Jerry Brown, who will be sworn in next month.

But Schwarzenegger said he wanted to make the budget problem "a little bit easier" for Brown.

The minority Republicans could be sidelined in the budget process. California voters approved new rules in November to allow a simple majority of legislators to pass a spending plan. But GOP votes will still be needed to raise taxes and fees.

How the new rules will play out in partisan Sacramento remains to be seen, the Los Angeles Times commented on Monday.

Source: Xinhua


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