Schwarzenegger to propose budget cuts to legislators today

Children's Defense Fund director calls possible cuts 'devastating'

The budget ax is being raised once again in California. And this time it seems like no one is safe, especially the state's children.

Governor Schwarzenegger will address a joint session of the state Legislature today to update his efforts to deal with the state's projected $24 billion budget deficit. Health and welfare programs could see some of the biggest cuts, with the total elimination of two major safety-net programs.

The governor's plan calls for saving $1.3 billion by eliminating CalWORKS, a welfare-to-work program that helps low- and very-low-income children and families.

Deena Lahn, policy director for the Children's Defense Fund-California, said it looks like false economizing to her.

"If the legislature is going to even consider eliminating, or once again cutting, the program, they should look at the cost to the state, cities and counties of having more homeless families, because it's pretty clear to everybody that that's what we're going to see," she said.

Healthy Families, a children's health care program, is also on the chopping block.

Lahn says tens of thousand of low-income families depend on such state safety-net programs, which have already been cut in recent budgets.

"While of course there's a lot of dramatic focus on the governor proposing that programs are eliminated, even lesser cuts will be absolutely devastating."

The governor says the deep cuts are the only option, but Lahn disagrees. She said the legislature should consider alternative sources of revenue to save the programs.

California News Service

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