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State budget stalemate continues

August 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the state budget two months overdue, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California) warned lawmakers not to go to their respective party conventions.Many state-funded daycares are running out of money and college students are still waiting for their CalGrants. So, for the first time in two weeks, the governor and legislative leaders met to break the budget stalemate. However, there was no resolution.

"I told the Legislative leaders, it is extremely important not to leave before we have a budget done ... and that to compromise here in order to get this budget done," said Governor Schwarzenegger.

If lawmakers leave, there will not be enough people to come up with a minimum 2/3 vote to pass a budget once a deal is made. That threshold has inspired a group of Democratic lawmakers to begin a campaign to eventually change the voting threshold for budgets to a simple majority vote. Such a change would essentially eliminate the need for Republican votes.

"When you have a 2/3, that means six members of this house can essentially hold California hostage," said Assemblyman Sandre Swanson (D-Oakland).

A simple majority budget vote could mean fewer opportunities for political gamesmanship.

On Monday, Central Valley Democrat Nicole Parra was kicked out of her office by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass for voting against her party's budget proposal. The two were cordial on the floor on Tuesday. However, Parra is thinking it may be time to change parties.

"For the Democrats to say because we helped fund your campaigns, I have to vote a certain way?" said Parra (D-Hanford). "You know, who knows, I might become an independent in the future."

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said she would not comment on internal caucus matters.

California is only one of three states that requires a 2/3 vote to pass a budget. Out of all the states whose fiscal year started on July 1, California is the only one without a budget in place.

 

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