Calif. lawmakers claim progress on budget talks
Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature’s top leaders said Thursday they had made progress on trying to end California’s record-long budget impasse and would reconvene next week.
Still, the Republican governor and Democratic and Republican leaders of the Assembly and Senate emerged after six hours of talks without a solid plan for closing California’s $19 billion deficit.
They have been meeting at Schwarzenegger’s private office in Santa Monica because the governor has been feeling ill with a cold.
The leaders reached what aides described as a framework for a potential solution but did not explain what they meant or release any further details.
“Today’s meeting has resulted in significant progress, and I believe we have reached a framework for a potential agreement,” Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. “We will continue to work throughout the weekend to iron out the details.”
Lawmakers hoped to reach a final agreement on Monday, said Seth Unger, a spokesman for Assembly Republican Leader Martin Garrick of Solana Beach.
Schwarzenegger would be back at the Capitol that day to continue the talks, press secretary Aaron McLear said.
Any deal, however, must get support from the Democratic and Republican caucuses in both houses of the Legislature. It then must receive two-thirds support in the Assembly and Senate, a process of cajoling that can take weeks.
Friday marks the longest the state has gone into its fiscal year without an approved spending plan, breaking the record set two years ago.
State finance officials have so far been able to pay most of the bills. But starting next month, available tax funds will start to diminish.
The state already has delayed billions of dollars in payments to schools and counties, as well as to vendors providing services and products to California.
The California Department of Transportation said the absence of a budget had forced it to freeze $3.9 billion in funding over the past two months.
Schwarzenegger has been ill since returning from a trade mission to Asia last week. He showed signs of recovery Thursday, using his Twitter account to send a photo of the budget meeting that featured him sitting in front of a display of his bodybuilding trophies.