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What It Will Take For Schwarzenegger To Sign The State Budget


Aired 8/3/10

Governor Schwarzenegger says he won't sign a budget deal if pension increases aren't addressed. We're joined on Morning Edition by Sacramento Bee columnist, Dan Walters.

Governor Schwarzenegger says he won't sign a budget deal if pension increases aren't addressed. We're joined on Morning Edition by Sacramento Bee columnist, Dan Walters. So the governor says he won’t sign a budget deal if pension increases aren’t addressed. We know we are more than a month behind the budget deadline, to get a spending plan passed. It’s this top of mind for lawmakers?

DAN WALTERS (Sacramento Bee Columnist): Well supposedly it is. They say it is, but then they always say it is. But it hasn’t happened yet. The feeling in the capitol is that it’s not any likely to happen very quickly. We could be looking at weeks, even a month or more before this thing is done. There are all sorts of side agendas going on. It’s an election year obviously. The governor is a very lame-duck. A very unpopular lame-duck. His popularity is sitting right about where Gray Davis’ was when he recalled. The Legislature is even more unpopular. There are a number of legislative seats in play. And of course there are ballot measures – several of which would deal with the budget. And so there’s some feeling that this year’s budget negotiations are colored by attempts to kind of sway public opinion about it in anticipation of some of these budget-related ballot measures that are coming up in November. So you have all sorts of things. And of course they just have a great big deficit. And they’ve used seemingly every gimmick in the book. Although there’s always more gimmicks to be used in the past without having to resolve it. And here they are again with another big deficit. The bucket of gimmicks has become depleted. And truly no one knows what to do.

BROWN: So when you talk about what to do, the two-thirds needed to pass a budget has always been a sore thorn in the side of lawmakers. Can a new candidate moving in change that? Or will it be the voters at the end of the day making the change to move the budget forward?

WALTERS: Well, that’s a good question. It may not happen until election. Because remember one of those ballot measures would change that two-thirds vote, would change it to a simple majority. And so there’s some sense that the people who want that ballot measure passed, namely Democrats and public employee unions, might be stalling just to raise the level of public anger even higher. Because one provision of that ballot measure would actually remove the pay of legislators during periods when there is no budget. So the proponents of that measure, oddly enough, most legislators themselves, may be telling the public – punish the Legislature – by passing Proposition 25. When in fact, if the budget is still going and going and going and going and the anger is getting higher and higher and higher, that might help them pass that ballot measure. You see that’s the sort of complicating factor that is hard to handicap in a year like this one.

BROWN: Understandable. Thanks we’ll leave it there. Sacramento Bee Columnist Dan Walter.

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