CA Lawmakers Skip Special Session on Budget

November 19, 2008 10:52:19 PM PST
State lawmakers are supposed to be meeting in a special session in Sacramento right now to work out a solution to the budget crisis. But that's not whay is actually happening.

The special session to urgently deal with the state's budget crisis began November 6th. On Wednesday, with less than two weeks remaining, the chambers sat empty.

After meeting privately again with Governor Schwarzenegger, leaders of both parties remain optimistic they can reach a solution.

"I think it's good that we're all still talking and trying to find our way through this thing," said Senator Dave Cogdill of Fresno.

Since November 6th, though, more than a dozen lawmakers have been traveling to India, China, and Maui learning about high-speed rail, education and dams paid for by special interest groups or campaign funds.

Senator Decheny chairs the Senate Budget Commitee and is on a bi-partisan trip to India with seven other colleagues.

He and a couple of others missed a hearing Friday on the Governor's proposal to solve the state's multi-billion dollar deficit.

Senator Ducheny's staff says she has been in constant contact with them about the budget. Government watchdog group A Common Cause is not buying that explanation.

"It's clear that generally speaking, voters feel our lawmakers have lost touch. They are not focused on the important issues at hand," said Kathay Feng with California Common Cause.

Leaders insist it is okay for their members to be away from the Capitol during the crisis because their small, high-level group is easier to negotiate with.

"You can lay out issues and you can have a more efficient, productive discussion. But there's no question the members will be back when it comes time to vote," said incoming Senate President Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento.

But what will they vote on? Nobody's even introduced a budget bill.

Less than two weeks remain until the new crop of lawmakers take over and a new special session will have to be declared.


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