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Schwarzenegger, the new state budget, and Hollywood

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photo from  02/20/09  — Governor Schwarzenegger holds news conference yesterday to sign the new state budget into law.


After a painful three months of bitter debate, the state legislature finally approved a budget on Thursday and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law yesterday. The budget reportedly solves a $42 billion deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending.

The governor says the budget lays the foundation for fiscal responsibility in the future:“During a down economy and facing an historic budget deficit we had to make some very difficult decisions, but I am very proud that California is back on the best path forward. We will continue to work with our most important partners – the people of our great state – to ensure we never again face the kind of catastrophic budget scenario we experienced this year.” Still, many  Republicans are not happy with Schwarzenegger’s decision to support raising taxes even in the face of a financial crisis.

Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

Although the governor is taking a lot of the credit, I will give some high-fives and kudos to State Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). Maldonado broke the budget impasse early Thursday morning by voting  “yes” on the budget.  

Democrats needed one more Republican “yes” vote and Maldonado provided it. Rather than holding fast to the rigid, infexible, Republican mantra of “no tax hikes no matter what,” Maldonado did what was best for the people of California. He helped get us out of the budget mess/financial meltdown. Voters in the state should reward Maldonado with their support.

In exchange for his vote, Maldonado insisted a change be made in the state constitution to allow for open primaries, which I’m all for. Let the voters make an unrestricted choice in the primary just like in the general election. It would sure make the ballots, which have been a major headache during state primaries,  easier to understand for both voters and poll workers.   

Meanwhile, many folks in Hollywood are pleased that the new state budget includes a $100 million film and television tax incentive to put the brakes on runaway production. On the Screen Actors Guild website there is a joint statement from SAG, Directors Guild of America (DGA), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) praising the decision: “For the past 10 years, a united entertainment community has been telling state officials that our industry is threatened by runaway film and television production.  Film and television productions have been leaving California for tax incentives in other states and countries for years now, and like everybody else, entertainment industry workers are suffering in this economic climate.  We applaud the passage of this incentive which will help make California competitive and not only save the jobs that are being lost but generate much needed revenue for the state.”

Now, if the producers and the Screen Actors Guild can settle their nasty contract dispute, Hollywood can really get back to the business of creating entertainment for the masses.

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