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Schwarzenegger goes to Washington to collect $6.9 billion

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US Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California told KQED Public Radio Wednesday, “The whole premise that somehow California is being disproportionately treated is just false.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger is asking for $5 billion for healthcare for the poor and welfare assistance, $1 billion for special education programs, $95 million for foster care, and reimbursement for the $880 million cost of housing prison inmates that are undocumented immigrants.

“For us to get stuck with the bill of incarceration of undocumented immigrants of $900 million is unfair,” he said in a statement before leaving for Washington. “We are going to fly to Washington and fight for that money.”

Unfair treatment?

He tried to foreshadow his intentions last week in a letter to the California congressional delegation.

“After cutting programs, temporarily raising taxes and instituting reforms in nearly every program in state government to reduce current spending and contain future costs, we must seek permanent relief from unfunded federal mandates and reimbursement formulas that shortchange California taxpayers,” he wrote.

The single biggest inequity in federal funding, Schwarzenegger says, is the way the federal government calculates the reimbursement rate for the Medicaid program. “Congress pays California a lower rate for its share of the federal Medicaid program than it pays most other state,” he says in his letter, adding, "If Congress simply treated states equally, more than $1.8 billion in California tax dollars could be spent here at home to balance our budget instead of being sent to Florida, New Mexico and Texas to balance theirs.”

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