State Budget Negotiations Continue despite Governor's Veto Threat

September 18, 2008 7:52:49 AM PDT
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger brought the battle over the state budget to Fresno on Wednesday.The Governor offered tough talk to legislators in Sacramento at his rally in front of Fresno City Hall.

Before a crowd of about two hundred supporters and protestors he delivered this message to lawmakers: "You guys can pass that budget, you can sign that budget, but you're not gonna get my signature. I'm gonna veto that budget because the people of California deserve a better budget."

The Governor labeled the lawmakers 104 billion dollar budget plan an example of fake reforms. The budget started out with a 15 billion dollar deficit. Republicans claim they've reduced it to 3 billion with cuts, and a temporary income tax loan from taxpayers. Schwarzenegger opposes the loan, but, he also sounded like he's giving legislators a chance to compromise, before actually signing a veto, saying," I will meet with them as many times as it takes."

The pressure is growing. Protestors representing schools, health care workers and day care centers going broke because the state isn't paying its bills during the budget delay demonstrated during the Governor's visit. But despite the veto threat the Governor and legislative leaders, including Republican Assembly leader Mike Villines of Clovis are still talking. From Sacramento Villines said: We met today, we'll meet tomorrow morning, we'll see if we can get something worked out."

Political Science Professor Jeffrey Cummins of Fresno State believes there's still time to avoid a veto, and make a deal.

Cummins said:" He hasn't actually vetoed it yet so I think until he actually does there may be some back and forth. And the legislature might go back and make some changes."

But, will they be enough? The Governor has pressed for a temporary one per cent increase in the state sales tax to ease the deficit. Something Republicans can't swallow.

Cummins says, "The essential problem for Republicans is that they have this strong commitment to no new taxes, and the only solution to this problem is with new tax increases, so they've backed themselves into a corner."

Another sticking point is the Governor's insistence on a "Rainy Day Fund." Money to be held in reserve to avoid future budget crises. Villines says even though the Rainy Day fund won't help the state until there is actually a budget surplus to put into it, he's willing to talk. He said, "It doesn't do anything in terms of our current problem, but we're optimistic to work with the Governor, we'd like to get this done."

With the budget now 79 days late the question is can the Governor and Legislators avoid a Veto fight, and come to terms quickly enough to stop the damage the budget delay is causing.

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