Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger drew criticism this weekend after releasing his proposed budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which proposed cuts to a variety of the state's social welfare programs such as domestic violence shelters.
The proposed budget, designed to close a $19.9 billion deficit, would include a 5 percent cut to state employee salaries, and seeks nearly $7 billion in federal money the governor says California is owed for faulty reimbursement formulas and mandates.
If the federal funding is not received, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program, the Healthy Families program, the In-Home Supportive Services program, among others would be eliminated, according to the proposal.
Schwarzenegger has also proposed to cut $14.67 million in domestic violence local assistance grants, a move state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) said was going to put victims of domestic violence in harm's way.
"There's clearly going to be suffering because there's no safe haven for these individuals," Yee said.
"Women and other victims are going to end up having to endure that suffering by staying home, or going to end up outside of their homes, in the streets, or under freeways because they have no place else to go to."
Schwarzenegger had used a line-item veto in July to eliminate funding for the state's 94 domestic violence shelters and centers, but Yee introduced legislation to restore the money. The bill to restore the money was passed in October.
Yee said that "Many of our poor, elderly and most vulnerable people simply would not survive" with the budget proposed today.
Teresa Yu, domestic violence program manager for Asian Americans for Community Involvement in San Jose, said the cuts would be "devastating" to the Asian Women's Home, a shelter run by the organization that serves about 180 women and children a year.
"It's not like you can just decide not to pay for utilities for a few months," Yu said. The funding "is necessary to keep our doors open."
Women in Santa Clara County who are experiencing domestic violence can call the center's hotline at (408) 975-2739.
With the proposed cuts to domestic violence shelters and other social service programs, Yee said "individuals in our society such as children, seniors, the disabled, they're going to have a hard time surviving given this particular budget."
Following the announcement of the budget, Schwarzenegger said in a statement that the federal funding was important to avoid these budget cuts.
"Now is the time to work together with our partners in the federal government to reduce costs and put our leaders in charge of decisions impacting our state's taxpayers," Schwarzenegger said.
In discussing his budget proposal Wednesday, Schwarzenegger designated "jobs, jobs, jobs" and the economy as the highest priorities for 2010.
"While we still have a long way to go, the worst is over for California's economy," he said.
Schwarzenegger called the state's ongoing budget crisis "our Katrina. We knew it was coming. We've known it for years."
His slate of economic solutions includes a $500 million jobs package, which the governor said could train up to 140,000 workers and help create 100,000 jobs. Other proposals will create a homebuyer tax credit for up to $10,000 and waive sales tax for companies purchasing green technology manufacturing equipment. Additionally, a proposal to streamline the permit process for construction projects with approved environmental reports will help stimulate construction jobs, he said.
Schwarzenegger also discussed broader plans to fix the state's considerable ills. He reiterated his ongoing mantra that California can create its own stimulus by reforming the state's budget and tax system.
He said the state must finally overhaul its tax codes to reflect an enviable economic diversity that includes both high and green technology, agriculture and the epicenter of the entertainment industry.
He urged legislators to approve the recommendations of a bi-partisan panel that spent much of 2009 developing "radical reforms" to the state tax system.
He also asked lawmakers to take action on an existing proposal for overhauling the state budget system, known as The Best Practices Budget Accountability Act.
Schwarzenegger also said he wants to privatize California's prisons, which spend on average $50,000 per inmate annually. He said the measure would free up billions of dollars for education.