To the surprise of no one, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Monday.
He also asked lawmakers to meet in a special session before the end of the year. "It is extremely important that they start right now. That's the fiscally responsible thing to do," Schwarzenegger said Monday.
Schwarzenegger unveiled his final plan to make the budget work under his watch. It relies largely on cuts to health care and social services for the poor.
About $7.4 billion of his proposal would come from cuts, include reducing cash assistance to needy families by 15.7 percent in April, then eliminating the entire welfare-to-work program in July.
He is proposing to eliminate vision coverage and increasing monthly premiums for Healthy Families, a program that provides health coverage for children of low-income families.
The governor also is asking the state to limit prescriptions and cap physician visits to 10 a year for Medi-Cal recipients.
Schwarzenegger said the state has to figure out how to save the state $9.9 billion over the next two years. He hopes lawmakers will be able to come to an agreement to do that during the special session.
The Associated Press reported Schwarzenegger will likely be out of office before any agreement is reached. Gov.-elect Jerry Brown takes over Jan. 3. Democratic lawmakers have indicated they would be more inclined to wait for Brown before taking action on the state's deficit.