Tags: Gov. | Davis' | Budget | Deficit | Triples

Gov. Davis' Budget Deficit Triples

Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM

Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill announced late Wednesday that the state budget deficit was a staggering $17.5 billion compared to the earlier $5 billion shortfall estimated by Davis in January. The development sets the stage for another painful round of budget cuts at a time when Davis is seeking a second term against Republican opposition that appears to be growing.

"It is clear we're going to have to make painful decisions about crucial state services," Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson said in a release.

"Everyone is going to have to bear the pain. We're going to need the cooperation of every member of the Assembly to get the job done."

Davis this week announced a proposed $4 billion spending package for road improvements in the state that, along with other programs, may now be in jeopardy.

Wesson indicated that there might not be much sentiment in the Legislature to spare programs for political purposes as they look for ways to balance the books by the June 15 statutory deadline.

"The people of California don't care if we're Republicans or Democrats; they expect us to pass a responsible budget," the Los Angeles County Democrat said.

The non-partisan Legislative Analyst office reviews the governor's budget proposals every year. Although some immediate reaction in Sacramento called Hill's assessment too pessimistic, her findings will likely be fodder for political rhetoric as the candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination slug it out in advance of the March 5 primary.

"Some actions have been taken. That's a positive sign," Hill noted of the $2.4 billion in cuts that have already been approved by lawmakers. "There's a long way to go."

The news came just ahead of a new poll released Thursday that showed Davis trailing liberal Republican front-runner Richard Riordan, a longtime Los Angeles mayor, in a virtual tie with GOP candidate Bill Simon, a private businessman and son of former Treasury Secretary William Simon.

Riordan, Simon and another candidate, Bill Jones, have chided Davis on the campaign trail for bungling the state's energy crisis and for failing to exercise fiscal discipline even though the governor was once the state controller.

Riordan said the poll released by Public Policy Institute of California reflected voters' growing dismay with Davis that was not helped by what Riordan termed a $6 million smear campaign by the Davis camp that accuses him of being against abortion.

"No one should be surprised to see a Davis-led organization blow $6 million. Davis is squandering his campaign war chest just like he squandered the $12 billion budget surplus, with nothing to show for it," Riordan said. "Looks like ineffectiveness in the governor's office has seeped into the campaign committee."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill announced late Wednesday that the state budget deficit was a staggering $17.5 billion compared to the earlier $5 billion shortfall estimated by Davis in January. The development sets the stage for another painful round of budget cuts at a...
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2002-00-21
Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM
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