Tuesday, July 21, 2009


James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer | RedlandS Daily Facts [LA Newspaper Group]

07/21/2009 09:22:12 PM PDT -- The day after legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed on a deal to close the state's $26.3 billion budget gap, local lawmakers said they were still waiting to hear many of the details.

The Big 5 - Schwarzenegger and the top Democrats and Republicans from the Assembly and state Senate, reached an agreement Monday night, nearly three weeks after the new fiscal year began. The Legislature is expected to vote on the budget revision package Thursday evening.

In the meantime, Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, said he was "trying to get the specifics" of the plan and an aide to state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair, said the details of the plan "are still very sketchy."

"The Big 5 process is not my favorite," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Diamond Bar, who said he knew only the general points of the plan. "The devil's in the details. ... With these holistic numbers, what do they mean? What kind of reforms and programs are we doing?

Despite Assembly minority leader Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, and state Senate minority leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, signing off on the deal, local Republicans said they are uncomfortable with parts of it, even though it does not raise taxes. Local Democratic lawmakers did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

"I'm very skeptical about this budget," said Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Claremont. "While we make some important moves in the right direction - we are cutting government down to one of the lowest levels it's seen in decades - it's certainly not enough."

He said if California's economy continues to struggle and the state doesn't take in as much money as expected, "the state is not braced for it, even with this budget."

The plan announced Monday cuts about $15.5 billion in spending from the original 2009-10 budget. It also calls for bringing in $3 billion from local governments, $2 billion from borrowing and about $5 billion by shorting the state's accounts in the next fiscal year and by using what some lawmakers have described as accounting gimmicks.

"It's not a perfect budget," Cook said. "Not everyone's going to like it. The only reason I'm excited is that there's no tax increases."

Lawmakers said they expect to get final budget language today.

The budget revision package will be broken into 28 bills, some of which will need a simple majority vote and some of which will need a two-thirds vote.

Those needing a two-thirds vote will have to draw at least a few Republicans in each chamber.

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