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Critics: CA Budget Battle Could be Suffocating....Literally

July 30, 2007

More than one billion dollars in spending cuts, no new taxes or fees, and a cash reserve for the state. That's the budget plan agreed to in the California legislature by both houses and both parties but it's still not a done deal, in part because of a push for more budget cuts that specifically target environmental issues. David Allgood with the California League of Conservation Voters in Los Angeles says the programs targeted protect lives.

"With air pollution in Southern California, we lose 2,400 people a year to diesel pollution alone. So, lives are at stake here."

Some Republicans state that if environmental programs are cut, they'll vote for the budget. They think the programs are best handled by the private sector. A recent Public Policy Institute of California survey found that half of Californians don't think the state is doing enough to protect the environment. Environmental budget issues are being tracked at ecovote.org.

Rico Mastrodonato with the California League of Conservation Voters in Oakland feels the push to cut environmental protections is out of step with what the public wants and it shouldn't be holding up an agreed-to budget.

"Republican leadership is proposing cuts for things all Californians care about - greenhouse gas reductions, state parks, reducing diesel pollution, and coastal protections."

The PPIC survey mentioned is at www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_707MBS.pdf.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - CA