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Politicians Point Fingers in California Budget Crisis

Black Voice News, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Dec 08, 2008

The clock is about to strike midnight on the state legislature, which, along with many state assemblies across the country, is desperately trying to close a widening budget deficit before its political capital runs out.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Monday and called lawmakers into a special session to address the states $11.2 billion deficit.

With the looming threat of a cash shortage by February area state lawmakers are trading accusations over who was responsible for the states fiscal morass.

Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter D-Rialto pointed the finger at Republicans for balking at a proposal for spending cuts and a tax increase put forth by the Democrats and the governor.

The Republicans are steadfast in their refusal to raise taxes yet they refuse to submit a compromise alternate proposal. It is very disappointing and frustrating. Carter whose district includes large swaths of San Bernardino, predicted dire consequences for the region slammed by the devastating housing crisis now struggling with a cash crunch and looming layoffs.

Lawmakers failed to reach a compromise during the special session Schwarzenegger declared last month, pushing the problem to a new state legislature that was sworn in this week.

Assemblyman Paul Cook, a Republican whose district includes much of the Morongo Basin is skeptical that a tax hike will stop the bleeding.

Looking at the current economic conditions, how do you justify raising taxes on local people many whove lost jobs, homes and seen retirement income plummet, said Cook. He proposed cutting pay for legislators if they fail to reach a compromise.

The states revenue gap is expected to hit $28 billion over the next 19 months without bold action. The emergency declaration authorizes the governor and lawmakers to change the existing budget within the next 45 days.

The deepening financial crisis spells more trouble for Inland Empire cities facing the diversion of millions away from local redevelopment agencies across California.

The governor is proposing to shift the money to K-12 education and community colleges.

Upgrading roads and bridges, new sidewalks, more affordable housing and a long list of improvements to crumbling infrastructure could be in jeopardy, thanks to the budget woes.

Redevelopment agencies across Riverside and San Bernardino counties will lose more than $75 million this year. John Shirley, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, said the $350 million amounts to about an 8 percent cut.

For some agencies, it means giving up a project that was ready to go forward, Shirley said. For others, it means delaying a project. We have a few agencies that dont have the funds to make the payments. They havent figured out what to do next.

Meanwhile, in his first face-to-face meeting with President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden at the National Governors Association meeting in Philadelphia, Schwarzenegger urged the President-elect to make a large and immediate commitment to national infrastructure investment noting that federal investment in infrastructure is not only necessary for continued global competitiveness and long term economic growth, but also that it will create tens of thousands of jobs when Americans need them most.

Related Articles:

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