Budget crisis remains unresolved

August 19, 2008 7:21:43 PM PDT
Dozens of state legislators might not be attending the Democratic Convention because of the budget stalemate. A state budget is now 50 days late and there is still no end in sight. It seems to happen every year.

With state-funded daycares running out of money to stay open and college students still waiting for their Cal-Grants to pay for school, Legislative leaders and the Governor met for the first time in two weeks to break the budget stalemate.

Governor Schwarzenegger warned no one better leave to go the Republican and Democratic conventions.

"I told the Legislative leaders, it is extremely important not to leave before we have a budget done, and that to compromise here in order to get this budget done," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

If some lawmakers did leave, there would not be enough people to come up with a minimum two-thirds vote to pass a budget once a deal is made.

That two-thirds threshold has inspired a group of Democratic lawmakers to begin a campaign to eventually change the voting threshold for budgets to a simple majority vote, which essentially eliminates the need for any Republican votes.

"When you have two-thirds, that means six members of this house can essentially hold California hostage," said Assembyman Sandre Swanson (D) Oakland.

A simple majority budget vote could mean fewer opportunities for political gamesmanship. On Monday, Central Valley Democrat Nicole Parra was kicked out of her office by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass for voting against her party's budget proposal.

Today, the two were cordial on the floor. It's got Parra thinking maybe it's time to change parties.

"For the Democrats to say because we helped fund your campaigns, I have to vote a certain way?" said Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D) Hanford. "You know, who knows, I might become an independent in the future."

"Any regrets?" asked ABC7's Nannette Miranda.

"No, no, no, no. I wouldn't comment on internal caucus matters," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

California is only one of three states that requires a two-thirds vote to pass a budget. And out of all the states whose fiscal year started July 1st, California is the only one without a budget in place.


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