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Governor Blames Budget Mess on Recession

FOLLOWING are selected quotes from the Monitor's interview Thursday with Gov. Pete Wilson (R) of California:

On the California budget impasse:

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This election year has heightened tensions. There are a number in the Legislature who have suffered three defeats by my lights - they haven't liked term limits ... , reapportionment, and they didn't like the budget. They can blame me in each case, but neither they nor I am excused from a duty to do the public's business. To the extent they failed to do it, they risk not coming back.

On his opposition to new taxes:

It goes to the fundamental connection that seems to have eluded so many people [that] to the extent you create a situation where there is ever-present threat of tax increases on employers ... they are inclined to say finally one day, `Too much. I am going to leave California and go somewhere where I can operate at lesser cost, [with] lesser regulation, lesser burden.'

On "structural" reform of California government:

There have been more structural reforms in the past two years than this state has ever seen.... Anyone who is honest and objective can't contest that.... We have [stopped autopilot spending] with respect to the pension system, ... entitlements ... COLAs [cost of living adjustments], and have made more than a 10 percent reduction in the cash grant to welfare recipients to rid this system of disincentives to work.

On cuts to education:

These so-called cuts are not cuts at all but a reduction in the growth in spending ... [that] my administration wanted to spend on our schools before [the budget's] $11 billion projected shortfall in revenues.

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"The truth is ... we have actually increased school spending by $1 billion and we have provided full funding for enrollment growth and, I repeat, at the same level as spending per pupil this fiscal year as last year.

On continued recession:

We're not looking for a rebounding and resurgent economy. The budget crisis that occurred this year ... is a function [partly] of the second year of a declining worldwide recession. A recession is a worse time to impose a tax increase because it accentuates what we already are having to deal with.

On preserving "preventive government":

[This budget] has protected funding for early mental health counseling, prenatal alcohol and drug treatment, family planning programs ... that can have enormous human dividends in addition to tax savings.