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Governor to Cut Budget by $646 Million, Build Reserve

Times Staff Writer

Following up on his promise to set aside more than $1 billion for emergencies, Gov. George Deukmejian announced Thursday that he plans to veto $646 million from the proposed $50-billion state budget.

Despite the vetoes, Deukmejian told about 400 members of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the $49.3-billion budget will increase state spending by 8.7% during the fiscal year, which began July 1.

Deukmejian said he plans to veto $489 million in spending proposed by the Legislature just to bring the state’s budget reserve back to $1.1 billion. The reserve was all but wiped out last year because of unexpected budget pressures. Deukmejian said he plans to veto another $157 million from the budget but will set that amount aside to restore legislative cuts to prison, tourism, new technology, and rural aid programs.

Signing Today

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A list of the vetoes will be released when Deukmejian signs the budget today. Most of the cuts are expected to be in health and welfare programs.

The governor appeared to be bracing for criticism over his vetoes.

“Some will argue that I should have settled for a smaller reserve in order to fund all the vetoes. They will charge, as they have done every year, that it is somehow lacking in compassion to deny extra funds to the affected programs while stashing those funds away in reserve,” the governor said in a luncheon speech at the Biltmore.

But, Deukmejian argued, in past years the state has “needed virtually every dollar in the reserve in order to meet either unexpected expenses or unanticipated reductions in revenues.”

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Follow Through on Threat

Deukmejian indicated that he plans to follow through on a threat to substantially reduce the $36-million annual budget of the state Office of Family Planning, which administers programs providing birth control information, advice and other services aimed at eliminating unwanted pregnancies.

Birth control services have support among both Republican and Democratic legislators, but probably not enough to override the governor’s veto. Veto overrides require support by two-thirds of the members of the Assembly and Senate.

Deukmejian said he thinks family planning agencies can find revenue from other sources, such as private foundations and grants. The governor also indicated that he plans to cut money added to the budget by the Legislature for prenatal services for poor women.

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During the speech, Deukmejian appealed to members of the public affairs forum to support a proposed constitutional amendment in next June’s primary election that will substantially rewrite two measures approved in earlier elections--the government spending limit that was passed in 1979 and Proposition 98, the school funding initiative approved by voters last year.

Deukmejian said passage of the constitutional amendment is necessary so that he and the Legislature can go forward with plans to raise gasoline taxes and truck weight fees to finance a 10-year, $18.5-billion transportation program. The program calls for increasing the state gasoline tax by 9 cents a gallon, spread out over five years.

During a question-and-answer session after the speech, Deukmejian, long an advocate of tough anti-crime legislation, lamented the fact that a series of new stringent sentencing laws has not stemmed the flow of illegal drugs into California.

“We have not yet been successful--despite all of the drug prevention and drug education programs that are undertaken--to turn off a significant number of people from engaging in the use of illegal drugs,” Deukmejian said.

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