Politics & Government

Wildfire prompts Schwarzenegger to alter message on firefighter cuts

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger started the week promoting Wildfire Awareness Week in events with fire officials, during which he suggested he might have to cut 1,700 firefighting jobs if voters reject the May 19 ballot measures.

He had another such event scheduled Thursday in Riverside. But an actual fire broke out midweek in Santa Barbara, forcing a change of plans.

Schwarzenegger appeared Thursday at the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara instead. Instead of warning about firefighting cuts, he began reassuring Californians that the state would find the money to protect people.

He said he "wanted to make sure you all know, even though we have this (financial) crisis, we will not be short of money when it comes to fighting these fires."

The governor said that because he declared a state of emergency this week for the Jesusita fire, the federal government would reimburse 75 percent of the state's costs.

Reporters asked how the governor's earlier threat to cut firefighter jobs squared with the assurance he would always commit necessary resources to fight fires in California.

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