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The Clock is Ticking as Lawmakers Work on Budget


California lawmakers say they're getting down to the nitty-gritty of budget negotiations. The state is weeks from a serious cash shortage and legislative leaders and the governor met for hours Monday in an effort to work out a deal. Marianne Russ reports.

Democratic Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg emerged for a break from the lengthy talks to tell reporters things were very positive. He says everyone agrees the best plan is to tackle the entire $40 billion problem at once. He says now they're working through issues line by line.

Steinberg:"I think that's a positive thing, because until you get down to that level of detail, you know, you can't really make an agreement."

Republicans are back at the negotiating table. Last month the Governor and Democrats worked separately on a deal that did not involve the G-O-P. Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines.

Villines: "I'm optimistic that we're going to get to a solution, and we just keep working through the tough stuff, and the tough stuff is, you know, always the hardest to get through."

Republicans and Democrats have wrangled for months over how to solve the massive problem - through cuts, new taxes or more likely -a combination of both. The State Controller has warned California may have to issue I-O-U's instead of checks next month because of a cash shortage.

The governor will give his annual State of the State Address on Thursday. He's expected to focus largely on the budget mess.

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