Senate will Pursue Different Course on Budget - San Francisco Chronicle

We are finally seeing broad agreement in Congress that leaders must cut spending and control the deficit.

But we need to make certain the budget is not balanced on the backs of California's families and businesses.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what the spending plan endorsed by House Republicans will do, in the process undermining our economic recovery and endangering the financial security, health and educational opportunities for millions of California families.

Public health and education programs in California will see sweeping cuts, causing great hardship.

The budget for community health centers is cut by more than half - slashing doctors and staff by 28,000. In California, these clinics serve 2.8 million patients each year - the only health care option for many.

Funding for Head Start is reduced by 14 percent, depriving 24,000 low-income children in California access to early childhood services.

The Title X Family Planning Program is eliminated. For California, that means 1.2 million individuals lose health care, counseling and education services. This ends the program credited with preventing more than 400,000 abortions in 2008 - more than 80,000 in California.

There is no question that we must fix our broken budget process and rein in government spending. But instead of responsibly addressing our financial and budget woes, House Republicans use political bias to target programs critical to California, jeopardizing our record of innovation.

Cuts supported by House Republicans mean tens of thousands of California jobs lost, when we're already facing the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Two key California priorities are in the budget-cutting crosshairs: clean energy and infrastructure modernization - both proven job-creators.

A vital Energy Department loan program will be lost, killing $40 billion of investment in clean energy development. California developers will be forced to halt 24 projects, costing 76,000 jobs.

Funding for energy research and development will be slashed by $1.9 billion, a loss of more than $200 million for California's laboratories and universities, a direct loss of 9,400 jobs and enduring damage to our leadership as a global innovator.

Funding for the president's high-speed rail initiative will be eliminated, and $1 billion already given to California will be rescinded, probably ending California's hopes for a high-speed rail line and eliminating 20,000 future jobs.

The plan cuts support for transportation infrastructure investments, ending five projects in California totaling $58 million, including a pedestrian network serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties and the first phase of a redevelopment plan for the former Oakland Army Base.

The House also targets California water projects. One of the most egregious cuts defunds the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, an agreement forged after 18 years of litigation.

As the economy continues its fragile recovery, we cannot afford to make dramatic spending cuts driven by political ideology.

We will pursue a different course in the Senate with targeted spending cuts and smart investments that support California's economic recovery, preserve jobs and protect families. We did just that when Bill Clinton was president, and those efforts helped create budget surpluses and 23 million new jobs.