"Democratic leaders and their aides will continue meeting
with the Republican governor this week to discuss economic
aid and spending cuts that go beyond the $18 billion package Democrats approved Thursday, according
to Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. Republican legislative leaders were not part of Sunday's talks.
"Schwarzenegger has asked the Legislature to solve the
problem by Christmas, but lawmakers adjourned until
Jan. 5. Democrats see the end of the year as a more realistic
target date if they can reach a deal with the governor,
which would likely require lawmakers to return next
"Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, convened in Schwarzenegger's office Sunday with aides for all three leaders, according
to Steinberg spokesman Jim Evans and Bass spokeswoman
Shannon Murphy. The leaders met for three hours, with Schwarzenegger participating from Los Angeles
via videoconference, McLear said."
"When legislative Democrats last week unveiled a risky
gambit to raise billions in new revenue by exploiting
a loophole in the state Constitution, it was more than
just a bid to prop up the sagging general fund. The
move threatened to realign the balance of power in
Sacramento — and strip Republicans of their most important source
of political influence, the ability to block tax increases.
"'We're going to govern, with or without our Republican
colleagues,' warned new Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg repeatedly in recent weeks as negotiations over the
state's massive $40 billion deficit remained deadlocked.
"Whether Democrats can get away with that is another
matter. Their proposal attempts to do an end-run on one of the most ingrained assumptions of state
governance: That any tax increase must be approved by a two-thirds majority, and thus needs at least some Republican
"The Democrats' complicated plan would essentially replace taxes with
fees, which need only a majority vote. It would generate
$18 billion, slightly more than half in new revenue.
"But although the plan cleared both legislative houses
on near party-line votes, it faces legal and political hurdles, including
a threatened veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In
one promising early sign for Democrats, the governor
did not take issue with the tax proposal itself; instead, he said the plan does not do enough to cut
spending and stimulate the economy."
"The Republican governor also renewed his fiscal emergency
declaration and called for a new special legislative
session, demanding that state lawmakers resolve a $40 billion budget gap by Christmas.
"Schwarzenegger's fiscal missives provoked frustration among state
workers and criticism from Democratic leaders who assailed
him for rejecting their $18 billion budget plan Thursday. The governor tried to
soften the blow by sending a blanket e-mail letter to 238,000 state workers, explaining that his emergency steps
'will require sacrifices from everyone.'"
"With reporter Scott Pelley lifting weights as they
spoke, Schwarzenegger hinted that when he played a
muscle man in the movies, he just pretended to lift
"'I mean, when you do it for the cameras you only do
50, so you take it easy,' he said. 'You don't kill yourself.'
"He described a scene in the movie "Stay Hungry" with actress Sally Field in which he had to lift 225 pounds over and over. "I learned very quickly: Put on wooden plates," Schwarzenegger said.
"His governing style apparently involves some acting
as well. 'People think show business was in Hollywood, but I
think [Ronald] Reagan was absolutely right,' Schwarzenegger said. 'If he wouldn't have the training in acting, this would have been
a very difficult job.'"
"Many of the proposed state cuts, like those in the
budget package approved in September, are likely to
pull cash from
county programs for health, welfare and crime fighting,
"'Regardless of what the state does, we're going to have a hard
time,' said Paul McIntosh, executive director of the California State
Association of Counties. 'Counties adopted budgets last June that
reduced expenses, and now they're having to reopen those budgets to
make even more cuts.'"