California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks about delays in funding for infrastructure projects due to the state budget crisis during a news conference near a Sacramento River levee in disrepair in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008.SACRAMENTO, Calif. ó With Republicans on the sidelines, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic leaders met Tuesday to fashion a midyear fix for California's swelling budget deficit.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg emerged from the initial round of discussions and told reporters the talks had been positive. Less than a week ago, Schwarzenegger had threatened to veto the Democratic budget plan that is the basis for the current discussions.
"We're all very committed to making an $18 billion dent into this problem before the end of the year," said Steinberg, D-Sacramento. "That's our obligation."
Steinberg said he hoped leaders could reach a deal by the end of the week and planned to resume talks Friday, likely by teleconference because the governor had left California for the Christmas holiday. He said a legislative vote on a compromise could come next week.
The Democratic plan would begin to address the deficit with $9.3 billion in tax and fee increases, $7.3 billion in cuts and another $1.5 billion in labor concessions, court rollbacks and other moves.
Republicans oppose it because of the tax increases. Last week, Schwarzenegger said he would veto it because it failed to include sufficient measures to stimulate the state's economy.
But California's ballooning deficit _ projected to hit $42 billion over the next 18 months _ is leading to severe consequences that have forced Schwarzenegger and Democrats to act quickly.
On Monday, the state controller warned that California will run out of cash within 70 days if lawmakers don't act quickly to bridge the growing divide between revenue and spending.
Steinberg said he and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, were willing to give Schwarzenegger more of what he wanted. That could include making concessions on labor rules and environmental regulations to accelerate work on infrastructure projects, agreeing to build more toll roads in the state and expanding help to homeowners facing foreclosure.
The Democratic leaders said they also were trying to accommodate the governor's demands for additional spending cuts, including eliminating two of 14 paid state holidays. Doing so would save an estimated $114 million during this fiscal year and the next one, mostly in overtime costs.
Republicans did not participate in Tuesday's budget negotiations.
Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, said Republicans would return to the Capitol if a deal were to be reached but said his caucus remained opposed to the package. He and other Republicans believe it is illegal because it contains tax increases yet was passed without a two-thirds vote in the Legislature.
"There's nothing for us to talk about today," said Cogdill, strolling through the Capitol in jeans and a leather jacket.
Anti-tax groups have vowed to sue if Schwarzenegger signs the plan, challenging its legality. Proposition 13, passed by voters 30 years ago, requires a two-thirds vote by lawmakers to raise taxes.
Democrats say they have found a way to get around the two-thirds requirement by claiming their $18 billion plan does not technically increase the amount of taxes on Californians.
Instead, they say it eliminates gas taxes and replaces them with a variety of other charges, including raising the state sales tax by three-quarters of a percentage point, boosting personal income taxes by 2.5 percent, taxing companies that extract oil from California and collecting taxes from independent contractors upfront.
It then replaces the gas taxes with what Democrats call a gasoline fee that would go solely to transportation projects. Because the fee is dedicated to a single purpose, it does not require a two-thirds vote, Democrats say.
Schwarzenegger has said it is necessary to raise taxes, but his opinion about the method contained in the Democratic plan is uncertain. Last week, he called the Democrats' proposal a "terrible budget" that would "punish the people of California." And in a meeting with local leaders in the Central Valley last week, he said their plan included "illegal taxes."
It was not clear Tuesday why the governor had decided to negotiate on a plan that only days ago he said contained provisions that were not legal. His spokesman, Aaron McLear, said Schwarzenegger would not sign anything that is illegal.
After meeting with the Democratic leaders, Schwarzenegger was asked whether he would sign a budget plan that contained tax increases but was passed only by a simple-majority vote.
"I prefer having my Republican friends at the table, and I prefer to get a two-thirds vote. But we do need revenue increases," he said. "To save California, I'm forced to negotiate just with the Democrats. This is the situation I am forced in because of lack of participation by the Republicans."
Schwarzenegger said he would let others debate the plan's legality, ultimately deciding "what is a fee and what is a tax?"
I hope CDF Firefighters get what they need to do their job.I would hope the governor realized that some services you cant do without!He seems to have a good relationship with his states fire services.Is that true or not?
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01-02-2009, 01:28 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
Will CDF Firefighters safety be at risk due to cutbacks?
Last edited by coldfront; 01-02-2009 at 01:35 PM.Always a day late and a dollar short!
01-02-2009, 03:59 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
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01-02-2009, 04:04 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 2008
I would favor a guess to say cuts will be made.
I mean, that DC-10 takes like $30 million to do a days worth of drops. With that kind of money, could could cut that, get two more singles and still come out $20 million ahead.
01-03-2009, 11:45 AM #4
It sounds like California is in a similar boat that a lot of western states are. Budgets are being cut, and Departments are being forced to cut necessary funding that would help to keep us safe. I am not saying that some budget cuts can't be made, (I don't think that the higher ups need a new vehicle every two years), but that seems to never be cut from the budget. It seems that things like staffing levels, training, and equipment tied directly to safety is the things being cut from the budget. Hopefully, Gov. Schwarzenegger will realize that you cannot cut any funding to emergency services, due to the risk to the public, as well as our first responders- I say this because there seems to some link between what California does being coincidently similar to what the other western states do.-Tradition-
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
01-06-2009, 12:32 PM #5
Calfire will be fine. They always come out on top. They may see a budget shrink, but it is always up to the on the ground leaders to keep their people safe.
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