Gov. urges Californians to call out lawmakers


"Call your Legislators and tell them you're demanding a balanced budget," says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California.

An impatient Governor Schwarzenegger has nowhere else to turn, but to Californians for help on the record-late budget. He's also relying on embarrassment to pressure lawmakers to break their stalemate by pointing out they've had months to work on the state's spending plan, with nothing to show for it.

"They go on vacation. They go on recess. They go home on weekends and have their two days off because God forbid, they have to work through the weekend," says Schwarzenegger.

And the Governor wasn't done. He attacked lawmakers for collecting their daily per-diem of $170, despite not having a budget. The Republican even ripped into his own party members for proposing a budget that depends on borrowing.

"It's like a family that has over-extended itself with a bunch of credit cards and then gets another credit card to pay off the old credit cards. That is, of course, a no-no. And they call themselves fiscally conservative and fiscally responsible?" says Schwarzenegger.

All the amped up rhetoric made for a very awkward Big Five meeting later in the day, where leaders of both parties, and both houses, met with Schwarzenegger.

"His low blows are not very helpful, and we communicated that to him," says Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) of Los Angeles.

"It deserves a fair debate," says John Laird (D) of Santa Cruz.

Still, the democratically-controlled Assembly Budget Committee allowed the Republican plan to be heard for the first time anyway, despite the Governor's reservations.

GOP members have largely ignored the Governor ever since he proposed an additional one-cent sales tax to balance the budget.

"We're, frankly, not paying much attention to him because we look at his tax increase proposal as a non-starter. We're the fourth highest tax state in the country. His proposal would us number one, ahead of New York," says Assembly member Chuck DeVore (R) of Irvine.

Meanwhile, a dozen rural hospitals are on the verge of closing their doors without state funding. They were given emergency money to float them through August, but now that fund has depleted.

"We need a budget now or this healthcare system is going to collapse," says James Whipple, the CEO of Marshall Hospital.

To put the budget deficit in perspective... just one of those billions is enough to hire 250,000 teachers, or pay for health care for almost 12 million children.

For just over a billion, you could buy the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland A's, and the Golden State Warriors. Or you could make all three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies -- and still have a lot left over for popcorn.

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