The Republican governor is entering his final year of office with the task of bridging a $20 billion deficit. He says the federal government "owed" the state billions of dollars. If the state is unsuccessful in getting more federal funding this year, his budget calls for eliminating scores of social service programs such as in-home care for frail seniors and the disabled as well as the state's main welfare program, CalWORKS.
"We also will inspire and push extra hard the California congressional delegation -- the bipartisan delegation -- because they're not being representing us really well in this case," Schwarzenegger said in an interview aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Schwarzenegger said the health bill will increase costs for California because of an expansion of the Medicaid program, but he noted that the bill that passed the Senate covered those costs for Nebraska.
"I just cannot imagine that why we would have ... our Senators and Congressional people, how they would vote for something like that," he said. "Were they representing Nebraska and not us?"
Sen. Barbara Boxer on Friday disputed the governor's contention that the state is currently a donor state, in essence, paying more to the federal government in taxes than it gets back in services. The Democratic senator projected the state would get about $1.40 back for every $1 spent during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, largely as a result of the $787 billion federal stimulus bill.
Schwarzenegger said he agreed that the stimulus bill helped the state, but he likened it to a one-time bonus that won't help California meet recurring expenses.
"We were very appreciative. But it's one-time money. One should always know the difference between one-time money and ongoing money," Schwarzenegger said. "One-time money, that's here today gone tomorrow."
By criticizing the efforts of the state's congressional delegation, he's largely putting the blame on Democrats, because they comprise two-thirds of the delegation.
The delegation includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as well as the state's two senators, Dianne Feinstein and Boxer.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, addressed Schwarzenegger's points soon after he unveiled his budget on Friday. He said billions of dollars will continue to come to the state this year through the stimulus package, and that Pelosi does believe the final health care legislation should treat all states equally when it comes to Medicaid.
"That being said, the federal government is not responsible for the state of California's budget and we look forward to hearing a sustainable plan for the state to get its house in order," Hammill said.
Late Sunday, Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson says he didn't hold back his vote on health care legislation just to get more money for his state, "but to fix the unfunded Medicaid mandate for all states."
Nelson was answering Schwarzenegger.
Nelson said in a statement issued Sunday that he agrees with Schwarzenegger that "all states should be relieved of this unfunded mandate."
But he took a shot at Schwarzenegger's state, saying more Medicaid money "isn't going to solve the $20 billion deficit California has today."