Timing of Gov's Asian trade mission questioned

SACRAMENTO The state is now more than two months into the fiscal year, and a budget agreement is not in sight. It's the second longest budget impasse in state history.

But Schwarzenegger is still leaving Thursday for a six-day trade mission to Asia to promote trade and California goods. He points out he can come back early if necessary.

"This is all about creating jobs. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs, stimulating the economy," said Schwarzenegger. "And just because the Legislature has failed to do their work, it doesn't mean my office, the Governor's office, should fail at my work."

The leaders of both houses met with the governor Tuesday behind closed doors, and they repeated that they're making progress. They don't believe the governor's absence will hinder negotiations at all.

"We live in the modern times. If the governor is there or here, we can engage in important conversations," said state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles).

Because no money can be appropriated during a budget impasse, many state services are on hold.

Critics say the governor should be in California to make sure lawmakers come to an agreement so services can continue.

Elisa Sanales is upset. Like thousands of college students, she needs a state budget approved as soon as possible so the school can release her Cal Grant financial aid.

"I really was counting on all that money, for gas, tuition and for my books," said Sanales.

Michaelin Higgins has two kids who were kicked out of daycare once the state stopped paying. She's disappointed the governor is leaving with the budget still in limbo.

"My mother, who's been helping me tremendously with my children, she's leaving the country," said Higgins. "I'm getting ready to lose the one person who's been helping me through this. If he doesn't get a budget soon, I am going to lose my job. I just live here. I looked up to you to take care of us, and you're really letting California down."

Supporters of the trade mission point out that California exported $27 billion worth of goods last year to Japan, China and Korea, the three countries the governor is visiting. The governor is confident more deals can be signed during his trade mission.

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