Monday, January 12, 2009

Bad Budget News II: We Are Not Alone!

The governor’s continued efforts to hold out for environmental rollbacks – combined with his proposed cuts for transit – represent a giant step backward for our state’s economy and ecology alike.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what some major news organizations statewide had to say about the disappointing proposals sifting through the state Capitol:

Schwarzenegger is proposing that the California Department of Transportation forge ahead with some construction projects that are tied up in court over environmental issues. One is a $165-million carpool-lane expansion on U.S. 50 in Sacramento that a judge has delayed because of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it could generate, among other concerns.Protections would also be lifted on a freeway-widening project through an ecologically sensitive area of coastal San Diego County and on a controversial plan to drill a tunnel into the Berkeley Hills. And Schwarzenegger wants to empower a panel of his appointees to waive environmental rules on other projects.

See the LA Times’ map of the proposed projects

“[T]here's good reason to think a permanent end to public transit funding will be part of future budget proposals. It shouldn't be. California voters have repeatedly shown they want some of their gas tax money to fund transit, and they're even willing to tax themselves more to improve bus and rail systems. Transit agencies, like every other public service, can expect to take a big hit in the next budget, but that doesn't mean their permanent funding stream should be cut off.”

“[T]he governor was opposed to the Democratic budget, not because of the revenue increases, which he did not criticize, but because he wanted more spending cuts and relaxation of environmental and labor laws to stimulate public works projects.
“On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger said he wanted a bipartisan solution to the budget impasse. In other words, he belatedly has come out against the Democrats' fee-is-not-a-tax scheme, which clearly never would get any GOP support. If the governor opposed the revenue-raising element of the Democrats' budget, why didn't he say so nearly three weeks ago, when it was first proposed?”

“If you are a business owner, it is likely you belong to the Chamber of Commerce or some other business association. … Here are some questions you should ask yourself: Are the leaders of my association or union acting in the state's interest? Are they even acting in my interest? If I'm a supplier who contracts with the state, do I want a budget resolution delayed so my business coalition can press Democrats to waive environmental reviews of highway projects?”

"Now it's back to the bargaining table with the one faction that has been orbiting in outer space while disaster looms in Planet California. The Republican Senate and Assembly members will join Schwarzenegger and the Democratic leaders at a "Big 5" meeting today. The governor said it was time to 'turn the page.' We'll see.
"The GOP legislators continue to refuse to consider any new taxes to fill these deficits. They're seemingly so determined to adhere to their no-tax pledges that your tax refund might get held hostage as a result, and the economy they're claiming to protect will suffer the reverberations of a government breakdown. "

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