Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian body builder turned movie star turned mogul turned very rich man turned governor, becomes very emotional when he credits America in general and California in particular for his extraordinary rise from shy, penniless immigrant to world-famous celebrity and governor of America’s most populous, diverse and liberal state, and the world’s eighth richest economy.
It’s a great performance, right out of one of those sentimental old B movies that Hollywood used to make. But he hasn’t done it in a while. After he made hash of the state’s finances, and broke more promises than he made, he chose to revert to The Terminator (he’s not just an action figure, he’s a franchise!) .
Tuesday, the Terminator made a series of additional cuts in the already lean, mean and mindless new budget. Using the line item veto, he focused exclusively on the people and programs that had suffered the worst cuts in the budget negotiations. It’s the first rule in Sacramento: never hit anyone who can hit back.
These latest, most brazen and cruelest cuts amount to a direct assault on our most vulnerable residents: children, old people, poor people, the disabled and the chronically ill.
In all, the old body builder slashed a total of $489 million from Child Welfare Services, the Office of AIDS Prevention and Treatment, critical services for the mentally and physically disabled, the Department of Aging, the Department of Public Health, programs for abused and neglected children, domestic-violence programs, Healthy Families, which provides health care for poor children, and state parks (100 of which will be closed), among others.
It was a shameful act by a man who, with the stroke of his blue pencil, denied untold numbers of children, older people and disabled people the opportunity he had to live fully and well in this blessed place.
Legislators have already questioned the legality of the line item veto. There may be lawsuits, or a vote to overturn the veto, but it would requre a 2/3 majority of the Legislature to overturn the veto.
And the children and elderly and the disabled continue to wait.