By Daniel Weintraub
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday proposed more than $7 billion in spending cuts to try to rebalance his final budget before he leaves office in January.
Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency and called the Legislature into special session to deal with his plan. But Democratic leaders have already signaled that they will probably ignore the governor’s proposals and wait for Gov.-elect Jerry Brown to be sworn into office on Jan. 3.
Most of the cuts Schwarzenegger proposed would affect health and social service programs.
In the Healthy Families program, for example, the governor proposes to eliminate vision services, raise monthly premiums and increase co-pays for emergency room and hospital visits.
In Medi-Cal, the governor would limit the provision of over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements, limit physician and clinic visits, cap patient spending on incontinence supplies, wound treatments, hearing aids and medical equipment, and limit prescriptions for other than life-saving drugs to six per month.
He also proposes to increase or add co-payments for Medi-Cal, and limit services for legal immigrants.
In social service programs, Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating the Cal-Works job training and welfare program, reducing grants to the aged, blind and disabled, and curtailing state subsidies for child care.
The governor said he was unpersuaded by the advice of staff, friends and observers who said he was wasting his time because his proposal would be dead on arrival in the Legislature.
“I always said I will go and charge through the finish line,” Schwarzenegger told reporters. “I took the oath to serve as California’s chief executive until January 3. I will serve the people of California until the last second, until the next governor is sworn in.”
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez of Los Angeles said the proposal was unlikely to advance in the Legislature.
“We will take the Governor’s proposal under advisement when it comes before the Budget Committee,” Perez said. “However, I believe the governor will have a difficult time convincing the Legislature to approve his proposal given the fact that it doesn’t address the entire problem, doesn’t create jobs and is in fact a rehash of proposals we have already considered and rejected.”