SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an austere budget plan Friday for the coming fiscal year that takes the California back to its spending level of six years ago.
To make up for a drastic drop in tax revenue and plug a $20 billion deficit, Schwarzenegger proposed making cuts to health and human services, welfare, transportation and environmental programs.
He also seeks to raise money by rolling back recent corporate tax breaks, expanding oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast and calling on the federal government for more assistance.
The Republican governor vowed to protect spending for public schools and colleges after cutting their funding by billions of dollars in recent years, actions that have sparked student protests throughout the state.
The continued austerity measures are a fallout from the national recession, which has pummeled California’s economy and boosted the state’s unemployment rate to 12.3 percent, third highest in the nation.
Schwarzenegger said the state is slowly beginning to emerge from the worst economic downturn in decades but that it would be years before tax revenue recovers.
“Tough times still lie ahead,” he said.