Reporting from Sacramento — State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday that his first priority once a new governor is sworn in next year will be to reverse some of the nearly $1 billion in "unconscionable" cuts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made to the state budget Friday.
FOR THE RECORD
Budget cuts: An article in the Oct. 14 LATExtra section about Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's push to restore budget cuts misspelled the first name of Darrel Ng, campaign spokesman for gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, as Darrell.
Flanked by program advocates and parents affected by the service cuts, Steinberg (D- Sacramento) said the vetoes would cause more than 700 child-abuse investigators to be laid off or not have their positions filled. Day care for more than 60,000 families with working parents would be eliminated by the governor's reductions, Steinberg said, along with some mental health services for children with special needs.
"The governor's vetoes were misguided, cruel, unnecessary and preventable," Steinberg said on the playground at a Sacramento day-care center.
Patty Siegel, executive director of the Child Care Resource and Referral Network, said that in her 40 years as an advocate, "we have never, ever faced a cut of this magnitude."
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the vetoes were "painful but necessary to provide a responsible reserve for emergencies," as required by the state Constitution.
Steinberg dismissed that rationale, saying, "We all know we're going to have budget challenges next year."
The largest veto that Steinberg criticized was $256 million cut from child-care programs for families formerly on welfare who are now working but not earning enough to afford day care. Democrats believe they could reverse that cutback on a majority vote; the others would probably require two-thirds support and thus some Republican votes, said Steinberg spokeswoman Alicia Trost.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D- Los Angeles) issued a statement Wednesday saying his house would also seek to reverse that cut.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman expressed little interest in rolling back Schwarzenegger's vetoes if elected.
"Sacramento politicians should be more focused on creating jobs, and less focused on protecting programs we can't afford," said campaign spokesman Darrell Ng.
A spokesman for Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee, was noncommittal.
"We have to ask those with the biggest belts to tighten them first, but everything has to be on the table," said Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford.