California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took an austere approach to the California budget Thursday, presenting a 141-billion-dollar plan that calls for 10 percent state spending cuts in the richest state in the US.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he must cut aid to poor children and the elderly, shutter state parks, shrink school spending and release 22,000 inmates early to plug a 14-billion-dollar deficit.
The plan would slash expenditures by every state programme by 10 percent for the budget year beginning July 1.
The governor, a staunch environmentalist, proposed shuttering 48 of California's state parks, nearly one in five.
"It is very difficult," Schwarzenegger said at a press conference Thursday. "I can see every single person hurt by these cuts. I understand how difficult it will be for these people."
He vowed not to raise taxes, saying: "I will not go back and ask (voters) for any tax increases. They deserve better than that."
Schwarzenegger invoked never-before-used fiscal emergency powers to force lawmakers to pare 3 billion dollars from the current budget.
The state legislature has 45 days to deal with the shortfall. Should lawmakers fail to find a solution in that time, they would be barred from doing any other legislative work or adjourning.
Schwarzenegger was elected in a snap recall election in 2003, promising to fix the state's finances. He has so far failed to push through meaningful financial reform, even as the housing downturn and softening economy recreate the dire economic conditions that helped get him elected.
Earlier in the week, Schwarzenegger announced he would seek a voter-approved constitutional amendment to permanently cap spending and to require the state to set aside a portion of surplus revenue during flush years to stabilize the budget in lean times. ( Dpa )