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Posted: December 13, 2007, Draft edition

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1) The Articles linked below were Abstracted from the sources cited. After the abstract there's analysis and commentary, links to related articles, and a link to the database with suggested search terms.

From bad to worse for deficit

State's budget shortfall now put at $14 billion; pressure's on to consider cuts, tax hikes.

By Kevin Yamamura - kyamamura@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 12, 2007




Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's finance officials are estimating a California budget deficit next year of $14 billion, significantly larger than the $9.8 billion gap previously forecast by a state budget analyst, according to two sources who have spoken to the governor.

Schwarzenegger is meeting with legislative leaders to brief them on the budget problem after Department of Finance officials revised their estimates Monday. State officials based their calculations on new economic and revenue indicators that took into account the sluggish housing market, drops in property tax revenues and increased expenditures from Southern California wildfires, among other factors, according to spokesman H.D. Palmer.

Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill last month estimated the budget gap at $9.8 billion over the next 18 months, larger than the $6.1 billion Schwarzenegger's office originally projected. She traced the problem to growing state expenditures and an economy reeling from problems in the housing market.

The governor's Department of Finance now believes the deficit is beyond $10 billion, Palmer confirmed. He declined to specify how large the deficit estimate is until Schwarzenegger finishes meeting with legislative leaders, but two sources who have met with the governor said his office pegged the shortfall at approximately $14 billion.

Schwarzenegger has been meeting with various interest groups in recent weeks, including educators, advocates for social services and local government officials.

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Schwarzenegger says he will declare fiscal emergency


By AARON C. DAVIS, Associated Press Writer


Friday, December 14, 2007





(12-14) 19:30 PST SACRAMENTO, (AP) --


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday said he would declare a fiscal emergency in California so he and state lawmakers can start cutting programs before shrinking tax revenue from the collapsed housing market leaves the state with up to a $14 billion shortfall over the next year-and-a-half.

The emergency will likely mean cuts to schools, colleges, prisons and aid programs for the poor, elderly, and out-of-work that have already spent nearly half their promised funding for the year.

Schwarzenegger said he would issue the declaration next month, triggering a special session and a constitutional mandate for the Legislature to rip open the current budget and either cut costs or increase taxes within 45 days.

The announcement comes as the state's budget outlook has deteriorated significantly, but before the full effect of the housing market crash and credit crisis can be calculated.

But it's still unclear how big the deficit may be. Some Democrats said they were still hopeful the problem may not be as bad as Schwarzenegger says.

If Schwarzenegger declares a fiscal emergency in January, he's required under Proposition 58, the balanced-budget measure voters approved in 2004, to introduce a plan to begin to correct the problem and to call the Legislature into special session to act on his recommendations. But because the fiscal year is almost half over, lawmakers likely could only cut a fraction of the projected deficit.

If legislators don't pass a budget bill within 45 days once a special session is called, they would be prohibited from acting on any other legislation or adjourning until they agreed.

Schwarzenegger said he was hopeful an emergency declaration could focus lawmakers on budget reform.

A special session also could allow the Legislature's Democratic majority to make most decisions about where to make spending cuts. Unlike the state's normal budget bill, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass, only a majority vote is needed to enact cuts within 90 days.

A tax increase would still need a two-thirds majority, which would require Republican support.

Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin, said he was optimistic the Legislature could agree on cuts, but was adamant Republicans would not support tax increases — a prospect already being raised by Nunez and other top Democrats.

"The majority has to come from (education) and health and welfare ... There's a lot of money wasted in K-12 and it's time we take a look at that."

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Capitol raises on tap amid deficit

By Jim Sanders - jsanders@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 3, 2007




California's legislative salaries, already the nation's highest, will rise to $116,208 today for all but a handful of lawmakers who have declined the hike while the state fights a massive budget shortfall.

Thirteen legislators – four Senate and nine Assembly members – have asked the state controller to kill their $3,110-a-year raise.

The other 106 lawmakers and 11 of 12 constitutional officers are taking the money, although they officially have until Dec. 17 to turn it down.

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2) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Education cutback on agenda

By Dan Walters - dwalters@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PST Monday, December 10, 2007




Pick your cliché. An 800-pound gorilla. A third rail. A sacred cow. The bull in the china shop. The big enchilada. A $64 question. Or, perhaps, ants at the picnic.

Whatever phrase you apply, when it comes to the state budget – and especially to the budget's chronic, ever-growing deficit – the biggest number is 98, as in Proposition 98, the extremely complex, 1988-vintage ballot measure that guarantees the schools a certain share of state revenue.

Although it passed with a very scant majority nearly 20 years ago, Proposition 98 – backed by a powerful coalition of school unions, administrators and trustees known as the "Education Coalition" – has dominated fiscal politics ever since, consuming 40 percent of the general fund budget, nearly three times as much as the next largest portion.

Every governor since 1988 has collided with Proposition 98's requirements because they are largely immune to the volatility of state revenue, which has worsened as the state has become more dependent on personal income taxes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has had an intimate acquaintanceship with Proposition 98's political reality.

The result was a bloody political war in 2005 in which the California Teachers Association and other groups spent more than $100 million to undermine Schwarzenegger's public standing and defeat his package of ballot measures.

Since then, Schwarzenegger has carefully avoided any confrontations with the Ed Coalition, fully funding – even overfunding – Proposition 98's requirements and pledging full financing for inflation and enrollment growth.

A Department of Finance memo suggesting a 10 percent across-the-board cut in state spending did not specifically exempt school spending.

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What's Really Going on Here?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., December, 2007

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Also See:

Arnie predicts 14 bil shortfall, bee, 12-12-07

Summary; Deterioration of the 2007–08 Budget, Elizabeth Hill, Legislative Analyst, Nov 14, 2007

Budget links

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3) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Egypt 'fabricated terror group'

A US-based human rights group has accused the Egyptian government of using torture and false confessions in a high-profile anti-terrorism case.


BBC NEWS, 12-11-07





Twenty-two alleged members of an unknown Islamist group, the Victorious Sect, were accused of planning attacks on tourism sites and gas pipelines.


Human Rights Watch says its research suggests the security forces may have fabricated the group's name.


It reports claims the case was used to justify renewing emergency laws.


Although the state prosecutor dismissed the charges against the suspects, 10 of them are still believed to be in detention.


The authorities' claims made headlines in April 2006 when they said they had smashed a previously unheard-of terrorist group plotting a series of attacks against soft targets including tourists and Coptic Christian clerics.

"Beyond coerced confessions, there appears to be no compelling evidence to support the government's dramatic claims," HRW says.


"Indeed, it appears that SSI (state security investigations) may have fabricated the allegations made against at least some and possibly all of them," its report says.


Detainees quoted by HRW said they had been beaten and kicked by their interrogators, and some were given electric shocks on their bodies, including their genitals.


Most of the testimonies in the report come via third parties, as the detainees themselves were unwilling to talk directly to investigators, for fear of retribution, HRW says.


The "Victorious Sect" arrests came to light shortly before Egypt renewed its enduring and controversial emergency laws, which give sweeping powers of detention to the security forces.


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What's Really Going on Here?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., December, 2007

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Also See:


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4) The Article linked below was Abstracted from the source cited.

Democratic Party buys wine from Nuñez

The Assembly speaker had charged $3,238 for 36 bottles of French wine. He was reimbursed after being criticized for lavish spending.

By Nancy Vogel

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


8:18 PM PST, December 12, 2007



SACRAMENTO — The state Democratic Party bought $3,238 worth of French wine from Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez's political fund after extensive media criticism of the Los Angeles Democrat's lavish spending.


Party officials said the wine was for use at a Democratic fundraiser. But nearly half of the 36 bottles, valued at about $90 each, are in a Sacramento wine locker kept by Nuñez's sometime roommate in Los Angeles who is a fundraiser for both the speaker and the state party.


The rest of the wine was consumed at other functions, a party spokesman said, such as a fundraiser this month with Nuñez as the main attraction.

The wine -- Nuñez's second expenditure at the wine shop this year -- was not consumed at the fundraiser it was intended for, Salazar said, because that event featured a California winemaker.


Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, said the timing of the reimbursement "seems more than coincidental."


But whether the wine was originally intended for Nuñez or for the Democratic Party, he said, "the whole thing just speaks of luxury and using campaign funds for expensive items and not . . . for campaign advertising, the traditional


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What's Really Going on Here?

Alex Wierbinski, Berkeley, Ca., December, 2007

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Also See:

Corruption Updates 7, 2nd article on the page, Another Example of Corruption: Nunez Follows Pattern of Rewarding Family

Corruption Updates 29, 1st article on the page, Nunez, ASSEMBLY STEALS LIKE CORPORATIONS


Nunez Lives Like a King on Corporate Bribes, lat, October 5, 2007

Nunez Pretends to be "Middle-Class" while living in luxury at public and private troughs, lat, October 7, 2007

Nunez and Perata Living Large on the Massive Bribes of the Special Interests, bee, October 9, 2007

Nunez Brags that his Bribes Pay his for Luxury rather than the State: but he still collects his per diem while whoring for the corporations, bee, October 13, 2007

Great News Clip of Nunez running away from the truth, and his own "Blackwater" security detail

Nunez lives with Political Fundraiser: Is there and separation between Nunez and his Corporate Bribers? ap, dec, '07


Nunez links

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Today's Headlines

Budget Crisis and Bribes

1) Arnie predicts 14bil budget Shortfall

       1b) Arnie to declare Fiscal Emergency

       1c) Ca Lawmakers take Fat Raises

2) Schools face Steep Cuts

Egypt just like US

3) Egypt hides torture behind fight against "Terror"


4) Dems live in Luxury on a Flood Tide of Bribes