CA Budget Jeopardizes DNC Attendance

August 25, 2008 5:24:25 PM PDT
When delegates to the Democratic National Convention meet in Denver next week, there may be some empty seats in the California Delegation. If the state budget is still unresolved, Sacramento Democrats may not dare to leave town.

Despite the flurry of bills state lawmakers having been voting on, none of them was as important the state budget.

Two months into the new fiscal year, it remains unresolved, forcing almost all of the 31 Democratic lawmakers, who are also convention delegates, to postpone or cancel going.

"Our number one priority is to settle the budget, and nothing is more important than that, and none of us would sacrifice that to go to a convention," says Karen Bass, D-Assembly Speaker.

"I can't imagine, candidly, anybody going. I mean, if anybody goes there, and they're not here, I think all hell ought to rain down on them," says State Senator Don Perata.

Going to Denver without a state budget in place is considered political suicide because publicly funded programs are struggling.

That has caused some Democrats to rethink their travel plans.

Fabian Nunez is still trying to decide.

"I wouldn't want my constituents come Tuesday or Wednesday wondering why the community clinics are shut down and where their Assembly representative is partying it up in Denver. I just got to think about that more carefully," says Assemblyman Fabian Nunez.

It's particularly tough for African-American lawmakers, who would miss out on personally witnessing the first African-American nominated for President.

Barack Obama will be giving his acceptance speech on Thursday, the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Junior's "I Have a Dream Speech."

Some are crossing their fingers for a budget breakthrough before then.

"I have a plane ticket; I have room reservations. It's an historic event," says Assemblyman Sandre Swanson.

Both the Senate and Assembly are scheduled to be in session next week. The lawmaker who can't get to Denver will have their vote cast by proxy so their candidate will not be short any votes.


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