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turlough

Time to Terminate the Terminator?

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SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared California in a fiscal crisis Thursday and invoked emergency powers so he could impose $150 million in spending cuts without the legislature's approval.

"I was elected by the people of this state to lead. Since the legislative leadership refuses to act, I will act without them," Schwarzenegger said Thursday in announcing the decision.

The cuts, expected to come largely from social service programs, free up money for city and county governments that have lost more than $300 million since the governor voided an unpopular tripling of the state's car tax.

Among the cuts announced so far are a .5-percent drop in support for the University of California and California State University systems, the closing of a migrant farmworker housing center and decreased funding for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Schwarzenegger had proposed suspending a civil rights measure that guarantees care for the disabled, but administration officials said he changed his mind.

Schwarzenegger said he would cut about $150 million by the time the emergency powers expire on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Repealing the car tax increase was Schwarzenegger's first official act as governor after voters ousted Democrat Gray Davis in a recall election and elected Schwarzenegger. The actor-turned-governor has yet to replace the billions of dollars the tax would have generated for local government services, particularly police and fire services.

The same budget agreement between Davis and the legislature that increased the car tax gave the governor the one-time power to cut this year's budget without legislative approval.

Some legislators said Thursday they were surprised by Schwarzenegger's emergency declaration and said it is the wrong way to react to budget problems.

"I think a lot of us are worried about where he's going to get the money from," said Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation. "I don't think you get yourself out of a hole by digging deeper -- his action just means that there will be more devastating cuts down the road."

Although some Democrats have questioned the legality of Schwarzenegger's move, Democratic state Controller Steve Westly -- who will be the one to issue the checks to local officials -- said he supports the idea and believes it is legal.

"Our police officers and firefighters must not be held hostage," Westly said. "This is an appropriate but temporary solution. The governor and the legislature now have six months to cut waste and solve California's fiscal crisis."

Schwarzenegger has sponsored legislation to repay cities and counties with reserve funds, but Democrats -- who form the majority in both houses -- say the state can't afford the expense without imposing deep cuts that they won't do.

A key issue in the Davis recall had been the former governor's handling of the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

Last week, Schwarzenegger reached a bipartisan agreement with Democrats to place a $15 billion bond and new spending limits on the March ballot.

However, that move, on top of the state's precarious finances, led to further troubles for California. Wall Street rating agency Fitch Ratings lowered the state's bond rating Thursday to just above junk-bond status. Moody's Investors Service made a similar move December 9.

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I just don't get it....the state is in a fiscal crisis and he repeals a car tax? Doesn't he want to encourage use of public transportation? Oh....right, I forgot....Funding for that got cut too.

He seems confident that he can fix the budget situation. I think he'll find it a lot more challenging than he originally suspected.

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I just don't get it....the state is in a fiscal crisis and he repeals a car tax? Doesn't he want to encourage use of public transportation? Oh....right, I forgot....Funding for that got cut too.

I'm becoming a bigger fan of increasing gas tax to support the roads and public transit in most places. I don't think tripling the car tax is a good idea, there is nothing wrong with owning car(s). But if you avoid mass transit and drive everywhere? Oh yeah, jack up the gas tax. Then they are paying based on usage, so punishes the frequent driver, not the car owner.

Simply increasing the tax would put a penlty on someone who say, car pools (which although may not be as effective as mass transit, is the next best option when transit isn't available or schedules conflict). I car pooled to work when I had a normal job. This way, your actually punishing the large commute having single driver in car that is the true plague of costs and traffic in this country.

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The problems in CA come mostly from greed, incompetence, and a thirst for power. It's problems are so huge they can only be solved by a years long policy of decreased spending and increased revenue. Doing that without hurting anyone is impossible. If ahnold has the will to do it, he's got more guts than most people.

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The problems in CA come mostly from greed, incompetence, and a thirst for power. It's problems are so huge they can only be solved by a years long policy of decreased spending and increased revenue. Doing that without hurting anyone is impossible.

Actually, it seems that that is the problem in many areas. Many city or state leaders simply refuse to cut their own salaries or the services they provide their residents. Then they wonder how they got into such a financial mess in the first place.

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I just don't get it....the state is in a fiscal crisis and he repeals a car tax? Doesn't he want to encourage use of public transportation? Oh....right, I forgot....Funding for that got cut too. [/qoute]

The public transit funds that got cut could hit two major transit companies in Oakland: BART and the AC Transit bus system. If this happens (or if it did already), AC Transit could end up eliminating over 90% of its weekend service (sad, really, because this is the largest bus transit in Northern California). BART could cut all Sunday service as well (which could make it the first heavy rail system to run Monday thru Saturday). :angry:

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I'm not a Californian, nor do I claim to undertand everything that is going on out there, but from my perspective, Schwarzenegger didn't create this budgetary mess, he inherited it. He didn't create the $5 billion in debt- past governors and legislators did. (People are quick to forget that the legilature comes up with the budgets, not the governor) He seems to be doing what he thinks is best to fix the current situation. I'm not saying he is right- just that he shouldn't be criticized for trying.

donaltopablo has it right- don't tax the car, tax the usage (gas). It was an unpopular car tax (according to the first post) so it wouldn't be a good idea to go ahead and triple everyone's car taxes anyway.

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