SACRAMENTO — Rejecting higher legislative spending proposals for toxics cleanup, education and AIDS research, Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed $706 million Wednesday from a state budget of nearly $37 billion that will take effect July 1.
Deukmejian rejected most spending levels proposed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and even cut into some programs he had supported in order to create a $1-billion reserve for "economic uncertainties."
To Increase Spending
Overall, the fiscal 1986-87 budget of $36.95 billion signed by the Republican governor will increase spending by about $1 billion--or roughly 2.8%--over current funding.
Even though spending will not be as high, in many cases, as Democrats had proposed, total expenditures will be hiked for education, toxic waste cleanup, AIDS research and mental health programs.
Essentially, Deukmejian ended up with the same budget he proposed to the Legislature last January.
"It is a budget with a vision of the future," Deukmejian said before signing the spending plan. "It is a budget of hope. A budget of opportunity. A budget of humanity. It is a common sense budget."
Deukmejian's vetoes drew immediate criticism from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, his Democratic campaign opponent, who charged that the governor was depriving children of an education and endangering those who live near toxic waste dumps.
"There's nothing sacrosanct about a $1-billion surplus," Bradley said. "I think it's disappointing he robbed our children of their education by these kinds of cuts."
And Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) said, "As we feared he would, the governor has again used his blue pencil in a manner which most hurts those who can least afford it."
Deukmejian said he would be willing to restore $283 million of the $706 million he vetoed if the Legislature agrees to pay for state operations by taking money from a state retirees' pension fund surplus. The Legislature initially agreed to the transfer, but balked after public employee union leaders protested.
To make up for that last-minute loss of revenue, Deukmejian vetoed $168.6 million in education programs, $79.5 million in health and welfare programs and $35 million in mass transit subsidies.
Included in those cuts were $75 million in aid to urban school districts, $34.2 million for community college districts with declining enrollment and $50 million for the medically indigent.
Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) accused the governor of "holding $283 million in essential human services and educational programs hostage" because lawmakers refused to approve the pension fund transfer.
"He should instead dip into his so-called $1-billion reserve and not assault the savings of millions of public employees," Roberti said.
Deukmejian, who frequently takes credit for restoring solvency to the state three years ago, insists that a surplus of more than $1 billion is necessary to safeguard the state's fiscal health.
The governor vetoed an additional $423 million in spending programs that he has no intention of restoring.
Among those cuts were $20.3 million for AIDS research and for public education aimed at stemming the spread of the disease. Deukmejian's budget calls for spending $28.7 million on AIDS research and education, an increase of $12 million over the current year.
But Roberti charged, "AIDS will continue to spread in California unless our governor is willing to join the Legislature in directing adequate resources to educating the public about the crisis."
In another controversial veto, Deukmejian cut more than $11 million in funds for the cleanup of hazardous wastes.
Of that sum, $7.7 million would have gone to hire 158 state employees to tackle the problem of cleaning up an estimated 31,000 leaking underground tanks. Deukmejian rejected the expenditure, saying that underground tanks should be cleaned up by local governments.
Cuts Training Fund
Deukmejian vetoed $1.8 million that would have gone to train local prosecutors and police officers to go after toxic polluters. The program had been recommended by his own toxics task force and had the support of district attorneys and environmentalists.
And the governor cut $1.5 million that would have gone to hire 29 employees to review toxic pits.
Deukmejian, whose record on toxics has become a major issue in his campaign for reelection, approved spending a total of $144 million on hazardous waste cleanup, an increase of 13% over the current year, according to his office.
Deukmejian made several other substantial vetoes affecting health programs, including more than $116 million in increased Medi-Cal payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers of health care.
In the area of education, Deukmejian made total cuts of at least $297 million, including the $168.6 million he said he was willing to restore.