Veto looms over California budget

SACRAMENTO The state budget landed on the governor's desk at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Instead of a quick veto, a game of chess has emerged between the governor and the legislature.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California) has decided to wait until Friday to follow through on his promised veto of the state budget.

He is using the lag time to criticize lawmakers for approving what he calls a very bad spending plan that doesn't work year after year.

"Borrow from the future; kick the problem to the next year and with no serious budget reform. This is why I said, 'OK, you guys can pass the budget. You can sign the budget. But you are not getting to get my signature. I'm going to veto that budget,'" said Governor Schwarzenegger.

A rally in Fresno miffed legislative leaders who earlier in the day went to the Governor's office united, hoping to prevent the budget veto. However, they were cut short so Schwarzenegger could get to the event.

"This is about people now. This is about working, rolling up your sleeves and doing the part of government nobody sees. That's what he should be doing. Rallies anywhere is mistake right now," said Assemblyman Mike Villines (R-Minority Leader).

It is no accident the governor chose Fresno as the site of the rally. It is the district of the two Republican leaders of both the Assembly and the Senate. They hold the key to whether their members will provide the necessary votes to override the governor's veto.

"There's no doubt in any legislative leaders' minds. There are votes for the override. It will occur," said Villines.

However, advocates for the poor, who rely on state-funded social and education services, begged lawmakers not to go through with the veto override. Instead, they want leaders to start over and pass a budget that raises taxes.

"We're having too steep cuts to health, education and other vital services. What we need is to raise revenue to prevent those cuts," said Anthony Wright, healthcare advocate.

Senate President Don Perata is prepared to offer the governor the one last budget reform proposal lawmakers failed to give him. That proposal will tighten the reins on California's "rainy day fund."

"If that would end it, yeah ... If that would end it. And then everyone could criticize us for that," said state Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland).

The governor and legislative leaders will meet on Thursday to decide the fate of the budget. Meanwhile, hundreds of state-funded programs have been waiting three months for their money.


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