Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good Thing They’ve Already Put Millions into All Those New Prison Beds

They’re much more important than health, education, or, you know, water.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday ordered all state departments to draft plans for deep spending cuts after receiving word that California's budget is plunging further into the red -- largely because of the troubled housing market.

State officials have warned the governor that the likely deficit for next year has jumped from a few billion dollars to as much as $10 billion, threatening to wipe out the progress Schwarzenegger has claimed in getting the state's accounts in order.

In response, Schwarzenegger's finance department has ordered agency directors to formulate plans to cut budgets by 10% for the spending blueprint the governor will unveil in January, according to administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. That would mean substantial cuts in all state programs, including education, transportation and healthcare, the officials said.

The news is a major setback for the governor's other policy initiatives. His proposals to pass legislation this year that would bring healthcare to all Californians and address the state's water problems were already faltering in the Legislature. News of a massive looming deficit will make the proposals, both of which would require billions of dollars of new spending, politically less palatable to lawmakers.

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