Schwarzenegger promises big cuts: 'Let's go do what the people want'

WASHINGTON -- Saying California voters delivered a message to "go all out" in cutting government spending, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday promised to make severe state budget reductions in education, healthcare and law enforcement.

"We tried to not make those kind of cuts, but now we have to," the Republican governor told reporters in Washington. "There's no other choice. I think the message was clear from the people: Go all out and make those cuts and live within your means."

Schwarzenegger thanked Californians for voting in Tuesday's special election. They rejected ballot measures endorsed by the governor that would have reduced the cuts to $15 billion. And the governor said the message was "very loud and clear."

"And you know something? I appreciate that," Schwarzenegger said. "When you hear that from the people, then it gives us a chance to go and adjust and say, 'OK, we went the wrong direction. Now let's go in the right direction. Let's go do what the people want.'"

Schwarzenegger made his remarks Wednesday morning before flying back to Sacramento, where he planned to meet with legislative leaders to plot strategy on how to proceed in balancing the state's budget.

After analyzing the election results, the governor said that "an overwhelming majority of people told Sacramento go and do your work yourself, don't come to us with your problems."

"The majority of people that came up to me didn't complain so much about certain issues," Schwarzenegger said. "They just said, 'Why are you bothering me again? I mean, I'm busy. You take care of it. You guys are sent to Sacramento to take care of those problems. Don't come to us. I'm angry. I'm upset. And sure don't come to us for more money. ... We have to go and sell off our motorcycles and our boats and our second cars and shrink and have yard sales and garage sales in order to make ends meet. You do the same thing.' ... That was the message."

Schwarzenegger said the state will make "drastic cuts" and predicted it will be very difficult because most voters, when asked about specific reductions, oppose cutting education, healthcare for the most vulnerable and law enforcement.

"People don't know themselves where they want the cuts," he said. "They just say, 'Make cuts and you figure it out.'"

Schwarzenegger wrapped up two days of meetings in Washington. On Tuesday, he appeared at the White House as President Barack Obama announced new fuel-efficiency standards. Later, he met with members of the California congressional delegation to discuss the state's fiscal crisis. And Wednesday morning, he met with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to ask for a waiver that would allow the state to cut $750 million from the state's Medi-Cal program.

He described the meeting with Sebelius as "terrific" and said she would work with the state on "various flexibilities" that will help the state.

"We made it very clear we're not asking for a bailout," he said.