As the temperature in Sacramento exceeds 100 degrees for the second day in a row, it does not seem to be driving state leaders any closer to resolving what is now the fourth latest budget in state history. In fact, they seem to be drifting even further apart.
Wednesday, Governor Schwarzenegger, in addressing a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Santa Barbara County stated that taxes would be increased “over his dead body”. Since a proposed tax swap is central to the Democratic leadership’s budget proposal, this would not appear to be a step toward compromise.
The Governor also reiterated his call for pension reform, stating he would not sign a budget that does not roll back pension standards to the pre-1999 level. 1999 is when the state adopted AB 900, significantly enhancing pension plans. Capitol Reporter John Meyers captured the tone and content of the Governor’s address in his blog posting “Budget +55 “Robbed Blind” – read more here.
Meanwhile, the Legislature continues business-as-usual with floor sessions in both the Assembly and Senate passing bills. The Legislative Session officially ends on Tuesday, August 31 but Capitol insiders suggest that the Legislature is trying to finish all business by the end of this week, leaving Monday and Tuesday to run budget drills. Governor Schwarzenegger has indicated that he will call the Legislature into a Special Session (#9 for this Legislature) if a budget is not adopted before adjournment.
The Governor has held meetings with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, but Republican leadership appear to be absent from those meetings. Senator Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth has indicated he will turn over the reins of that caucus to Senator Bob Dutton on September 1, regardless of budget negotiations. That could push things back to square one.
The National Football League season officially opens on September 9. We could be in Week 4 before a budget deal is struck.
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