Calif. officials respond to stimulus bill

SACRAMENTO The budget stalemate has dragged on for 84 days now. The state will not be able to pay all of its bills in a matter of days.

California's portion of the House stimulus package includes nearly $8 billion to help directly with the budget deficit, but the governor says it's only a temporary solution to the state's budget woes.

"I always make it clear, we will not use that money to bail us out because we have to bail ourselves out," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I think we have to be very careful not to look at them as a savior, but look at them as icing on a cake."

The governor and legislative leaders met again.

While acknowledging the federal money won't come in time to avert the state's cash crisis, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says it should be part of any deal they hammer out to ease painful cuts to classrooms and social programs.

"We're due to run out of cash in the next few days. So we need a budget solution right away. But I am absolutely not just counting on it, I'm advocating for it," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

To help with the state's budget crunch, Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a motion for California to re-take control of the shoddy prison healthcare system from the feds.

It's an effort to stop a costly $8 billion plan to build new facilities, which include giving sick inmates: yoga rooms, regulation-size basketball courts, electronic bingo board, music and art therapy and reflection and meditation gardens.

"The yoga rooms, quiet rooms, nice, but not constitutionally required. And completely inappropriate in this moment of fiscal crisis," said Attorney General Jerry Brown.

But the federal receiver says the state's horrible prison healthcare system needs three or four more years to get the job done.

"The conditions in the state's prisons for medical care have not yet substantially improved to be in compliance with the court order," said receiver, Clark Kelso.

State controller John Chiang has told the Franchise Tax Board not to send him any more refund requests because they could not be sent out by February 1.


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