Governor pledges to veto budget

Brian Baer / McClatchy Tribune

Fresno State can breathe a sigh of relief now that Republicans and Democrats in California’s legislature have ended their 77-day standoff over the budget. That relief may be short lived, however, as Gov. Schwarzenegger has already vowed to veto it.

The resolution did not come as a surprise to the university as the recommended $386 million budget cuts proposed in May still hold. Associate Vice President of Financial Services Clint Moffitt estimated that it would be around 30 days until money from the state came in.

“If the governor signs the bill right now, what we anticipated when we received our May projections still hold,” Moffitt said. “It’s just a matter of implementing the budget as it was signed.”

Aside from diminished general fund allocations, Fresno State is still in limbo over a 3 percent proposed compensation increase for faculty and staff over the next three years.

Cal Grant disbursements to eligible students have been borrowed against the state, but according to the financial aid office, the checks have not been delinquent.

“As of last Friday, we disbursed out to a little more than 10,600 students in a little over $40 million,” said Financial Aid Director Maria Hernandez. “The campus covered those grants on the assumption that the money will come back to us.”

The budget delays have not suspended student awards because Fresno State does not usually report to the Student Aid Commission until the semester is well under way.

Hernandez said that while the time element is unique this year, the process has not changed at all.

The $143 billion budget passed on Tuesday closed the $15.2 billion deficit without imposing any new taxes, but Gov. Schwarzenegger was not confident that it would satisfy his plans for reform. He believes it will require more taxes next year.

“[The budget] takes billions of dollars from the paychecks of hardworking families just to get us through this year, while we are pushing big deficits into the next years,” Schwarzenegger stated on his Web site.

While the governor has vowed to veto it, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass stated in a press conference that his veto could be overridden by a two-thirds vote in the Senate and the Assembly, a process that would only delay disbursements for a few days.

“If we bring 120 legislators up here to override a veto, I’m pretty confident we’re not gonna have difficulty doing that and we would do it in rapid fire,” Bass said. She admitted that the revenue system currently in place is out of date, but it requires changes that can’t be done overnight.

“If the people of California are the victims in the chronic budget crisis, the 2/3 vote and the outdated revenue system are the villains,” she said.

The budget passed by the legislature would deduct 10 percent from taxpayers’ paychecks and borrow $5 billion over two years from the state lottery, contingencies that the governor believes are unstable.

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