Fixing California: Drill, baby, drill!

Students, children, the frail and the poor are all hurt by the new budget deal. But a Houston oil company scores

Published July 21, 2009 1:42PM (EDT)

On the issues of climate change and support of renewable energy, Arnold Schwarzenegger's record is generally pretty good. So why did the California governor push to include expanded offshore drilling near Santa Barbara in the tentative budget deal concluded Monday night?

The obvious answer: When the economic pain gets bad enough, environmental considerations get flushed down the sewer.

The deal, writes Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle, received support from environmental groups because it only allows "Plains Exploration & Production Co. to slant-drill from existing federal offshore oil platforms into state waters." The Houston oil company has pledged to fold up its operation after 14 years.

The deal is expected to generate $1.8 billion over that 14-year period, or about $134 million a year, which might not seem like much compared to a $26 billion dollar deficit, but hey, every penny counts.

As for cuts, The Financial Times has a few more depressing details:

The agreement involves cutting nearly $6 billion from schools and community colleges and close to $3 billion from the state's university system, although Mr Schwarzenegger said education cuts would be fully "refunded."

An additional $1.3 billion will be cut from Medi-Cal, the health program for low earners and the poor.

CalWorks, the state's welfare-to-work program -- and the target of much criticism from Mr Schwarzenegger -- will have its funding cut by $528 million, while Healthy Families, a program that provides health insurance for 930,000 low-income children, will be cut by $124 million.

The state's in-home support services program for the frail and disabled will also have its funding slashed.

California's budget fix: Screw the poor, the frail, the young, the students, and the environment.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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