Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Politics is California is so much fun: "Governor" and "Schwarzenegger" can be packaged as role and actor in a plot that isn't a comedy ...and "force" and "compromise" aren't mutually exclusive. - smf

By Mike Zapler | Mercury News Sacramento Bureau

08/20/2008 02:55:00 PM  -- SACRAMENTO — Eager to break a two-month impasse over the budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today unveiled what he called a compromise spending plan and implored legislators to look past their partisan differences in the interest of the state.

The announcement marked the first time that the Republican governor has publicly acknowledged his proposal for a temporary 1 cent sales tax hike, despite campaigning for office twice on a no-tax platform. The budget plan, his third this year, also calls for deeper spending cuts than Democrats want and a larger "rainy day" reserve to head off future budget crises.

"Republicans must step out of their ideological corner on the right, and Democrats must step out of their ideological corner on the left,'' Schwarzenegger said at a news conference.

"We must meet in the middle," he said, calling it "shameful" that California, reeling from a $15.2 billion deficit, is still without a budget 51 days into its fiscal year.

Still, much of what the governor described simply made public ideas that he's pitched in private ... and in thus far unproductive ... negotiations. The reaction from legislators did not offer much encouragement that his announcement would yield a breakthrough.

Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines, R-Fresno, said after the news conference that Republicans would not soften their opposition to higher taxes no matter what the governor says. California requires a two-thirds vote to pass the budget, so Schwarzenegger must win over some members of his own party to move his plan through the Legislature.

"I don't really view this as anything different than what he's been saying for a couple of months," Villines said in an interview, adding that while he respects the governor's intentions, "I don't think it necessarily moves the process forward."

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said she was glad the governor finally went public with his tax proposal. But "it would have been nice if it had been a few months ago.''

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