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Deukmejian Vetoes Park, Transit Items From Budget

Times Staff Writer

Gov. George Deukmejian, whittling $706 million from the budget legislators sent to him, on Wednesday vetoed a 450-acre state park acquisition in Chino Hills, plus funds to subsidize discount bus fares for Orange County seniors and a court funding reform sought by county officials.

But several major pet projects supported by Orange County legislators survived, as Deukmejian approved a $36.7-billion state budget that will take effect next month.

A one-year compromise plan, for example, preserved existing funding for the Orangewood children’s shelter in Orange. The governor also approved a $12.8-million capital improvement program for UC Irvine and $7.3 million in building projects for Cal State Fullerton, along with less ambitious building programs for the county’s community colleges.

The final budget also includes a $1-million appropriation for sedi ment control dredging of Upper Newport Bay and a $250,000 loan to pay the county share of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ study of a proposed ocean outlet from a planned marina at Bolsa Chica.

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Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) said she made an in-person appeal to the governor last week to save the Newport Bay project.

Orangewood had been threatened by a new state funding formula for child welfare services, but the county-owned shelter is now assured of getting at least as much next year as in the current budget year.

However, Sen. John Seymour (R-Anaheim) said, “We might have to fight that battle again next year.”

Seymour said he has no problem with the state Social Services Department’s plan to de-emphasize poverty, population and building costs in determining future child welfare funding, so long as the new formula does not hurt Orangewood.

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Still, Orange County officials were disappointed that the governor rejected legislative proposals to make up for funding losses counties might suffer for foster care and other social programs as a result of the federal Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction measure.

Deukmejian left $450,000 in the budget to acquire one 120-acre parcel for the Chino Hills State Park but eliminated $900,000 that state park officials had sought to purchase another 450 acres known as the Rimpau property, which is part of the same multicounty park area.

Deukmejian said that the state has an option on the property and that the possibility of acquiring the second site would exist next year.

Implementation of a long-sought reform that would shift the costs of operating trial courts from the counties to the state also appeared to suffer a delay. Deukmejian vetoed $5 million from the budget that would have begun phasing in the change.

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Last year, when Deukmejian signed a bill by Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove) that called for the funding shift, he indicated he would not approve money for the reform until the Legislature approved measures to reduce court operating costs.

A bill to accomplish that is still pending, Deukmejian said.

Despite heavy lobbying from transit systems throughout the state, Deukmejian also axed $20 million in transit development funds.

While the state transit funds had never been used for Orange County Transit District’s operating expenses, spokeswoman Joanne Curran said OCTD officials had hoped to use $1 million to offset recent county cuts and anticipated federal funding reductions that had threatened subsidized bus fares for senior citizens.

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