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Fight Over Child Care Funding Emblematic Of California State Budget Battle

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (AP)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (AP)

SACRAMENTO (AP/KCBS) – Governor Schwarzenegger on Monday declared a fiscal emergency in California and asked lawmakers to meet in a special session to close an immediate $6 billion deficit.

The Republican governor announced a plan that relied largely on cuts to health care and child care for the working poor, a proposal that was not received enthusiastically by the Democrats who control the Legislature.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles opposed proposals targeting services for the poor, particularly the state’s main welfare-to-work program known as CalWORKS. He pledged to work until funding for the program was fully restored.

“We cannot and we must not stand idly by while others force parents back onto welfare rolls and drive childcare providers onto the unemployment lines,” Perez declared. “This is a program that keeps working people working. The folks who utilize the program are people who successfully struggled to get themselves off welfare.”

Schwarzenegger referred to the Legislature’s record-long budget impasse earlier this year in explaining why he was calling lawmakers into a special budget session. He said lawmakers should act immediately because cuts can take months to take effect.

“It is extremely important that they start right now. That’s the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Schwarzenegger said. “Like I said, I think any governor, it’s not just me, any governor that sits here would do exactly the same thing.”

Schwarzenegger called his eighth special session on the budget the same day new lawmakers were sworn into office. Under the special session provisions, the Legislature has 45 days to address the fiscal crisis and would be prohibited from acting on other bills should they fail to respond by that deadline.

Schwarzenegger will be gone from office long before then, with Gov.-elect Jerry Brown taking over on Jan. 3. Democratic lawmakers have indicated they would be more inclined to wait for Brown before taking action on the state’s deficit.

California faces a budget shortfall of $6 billion in the current fiscal year and more than $19 billion in the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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