SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian, as he begins to draft a new state budget, said Saturday that his first five budgets have increased state spending 62%.
The Republican governor, hoping to counter his "Scrooge" image, outlined the growth in state spending during his weekly radio address.
Deukmejian complained that while his budget vetoes are widely reported and critics play up cuts in education and health spending, "little mention is made of the much greater spending that I approved."
"In virtually every case, my vetoes have not represented cuts in programs but only reductions in what some groups would like to see us spend," he said. "Even with my vetoes, we are still spending more--a lot more--for essential services."
With his budgets rising from from $25.2 billion in the 1982-83 fiscal year to $40.5 billion this year, Deukmejian said the 62% jump might "surprise" the public.
Pinpointing specific parts of the budget, Deukmejian said spending on kindergarten through high school education programs had risen 62%, while higher education budgets rose 54%.
Other increases include transportation programs, up 60%; services to senior citizens, up 54%; support for state mental hospitals, up nearly 60%; community mental health programs, almost 70%, and Medi-Cal, 38%.
The governor said the most dramatic jumps were in spending on acquired immune deficiency syndrome research, testing and prevention programs, up 1,800%; funding for toxics control, up 435%, and the costs of adding new law enforcement personnel, which jumped 135%.
In rebuttal, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) criticized Deukmejian for vetoing legislation that would have continued state support for education programs tailored for schools in urban, heavily minority areas and students with special needs.
Brown, in a radio address that immediately followed the governor's, said, "These programs were created to assist our children with special needs." He noted that the programs "could not be financed from the regular program budget."
The Speaker said that without the programs, "Many students will simply not succeed. They will not learn English. They will drop out of the system."
The programs mentioned by Brown include bilingual and special education; Gifted and Talented Education; the Miller-Unruh reading program; aid to urban schools; school improvement and the Native-American education programs.
Indicating the fight is not yet over, Brown said Democrats will again seek to extend state support for the individual programs when the Legislature returns in January.
The governor, who wants to consolidate the individual programs and fund them with a single block grant, said in his veto message last July that local boards of education can continue to finance the programs.
However, Brown and other Deukmejian critics say the individual programs could get lost if funded from a block grant. They believe local school districts would be hard-pressed to continue funding them at their present levels, in part because some have little political support in local districts.
Differences Over Rebate
Differences between Brown and Deukmejian over the $1.1-billion state income tax rebate also emerged during the radio give-and-take.
Brown noted, "Many of us wanted to use surplus revenues for education rather than a tax rebate."
Deukmejian, on the other hand, took credit for budget policies that allowed for significant spending increases at the same time a healthy surplus was being generated.
"So far, more than 7 million rebate checks have been mailed out. With the holidays coming and with consumer confidence a bit shaken as a result of the stock market decline, I can't think of a better time for this $1.1 billion to be put back in the pockets of California consumers to spend or donate as they see fit," the governor said.