Budget vetoes spark outcry
The Santa Cruz Sentinel
July 13, 2005

By JEFF TOBIN Sentinel Staff Writer
SACRAMENTO — Just 24 hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the state’s new $117.5 billion spending plan, education and environmental officials lashed out at the governor’s $190 million in line- item vetoes.
Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, denounced the vetoes as "penny-wise and pound-foolish." Laird held a press conference Tuesday with fellow Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose, environmentalists and members of the state Education Coalition.
Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut $20 million for textbooks and related materials used by students learning English stunned Mary Anne Mays, superintendent of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
"I just can’t believe this," Mays said. "English learners are widely accepted as the state’s fastest-growing population. There seems to be comparatively fewer resources moved in that direction."
Before signing the state’s 2005-06 budget — 11 days into the new fiscal year — the governor used his line-item veto power to remove funding from education, environment and transportation programs without discussion with Senate and Assembly leaders.
Administration officials said Schwarzenegger axed the education funding because $30 million allocated to the English-learner program last year had not been spent.
In addition, Schwarzenegger declared the Legislature’s attempt to link funding for English language learners to funding for career-technical education "unconstitutional" and an attempt to usurp the governor’s line- item veto authority.
Lawmakers said the veto hurts children who need the most help.
"One of the issues that I think all of agree ... is that we have to teach kids how to speak English," Coto said. "These are people who in the next 10 to 20 years are going to be a major part of our work force."
While most school districts in Santa Cruz County receive money to help develop their English-learner programs, the heavily Latino Pajaro Valley district could stand to lose the most. More than half of the district’s 18,000 students are learning English.
Environmental groups expressed their frustration with the vetoes, saying they hope to have discussions with Schwarzenegger this summer.
"We know this is a tough fiscal year, as it has been for several years now," said Bill Allayaud, a Sierra Club representative, "but even in tough fiscal years people in this state consistently rank environmental protection very, very high."
The budget, which Schwarzenegger described as "an instrument of good for California," spends $1.3 billion on transportation, $3 billion more than last year on education, gives $1.2 billion to cities and counties and does not include new taxes or borrowing.
But the budget does not include $3.1 billion education leaders and Democrats say schools are owed after the suspension of Proposition 98, California’s voter-approved guaranteed funding mechanism for schools.
Lawmakers said they were disappointed in some of the governor’s veto decisions, but decided not to fight them as they feared a drawn-out process would push voters to support measures on the controversial Nov. 8 special election ballot, which would limit lawmakers’ powers and cut spending.
"Though these vetoes might have been in small amounts, they had very large impacts," Laird said.
Contact Jeff Tobin at jtobin@santacruzsentinel.com.
Budget victims

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto power to cut 93 programs totaling $190 million before signing the state’s 2005-06 budget. Items vetoed from the new budget included:
·  $23.7 million, including $13.7 million in federal funds, to help the food stamp program
·  $20 million for educational materials for English learners
·  $20 million to help local governments to mitigate impact of Indian casinos
·  $10 million in grants for local highway landscaping, urban forestry programs and construction of roadside bike trails
·  $6 million to restore funding for 114 jobs at the Office of State Publishing
·  $5 million for hiring 40 new game wardens
·  $3.8 million for a labor studies program at University of California
·  $3 million for new patients in a program to treat prostate cancer in low-income families
·  $3 million to operate fish hatcheries
·  $2 million to help metal-plating factories upgrade environmental protections
Source: California Department of Finance
Sentinel Staff Report