Budget Drama Signals Tough Impasse

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, August 7, 2008

In a very unusual move, Republican lawmakers tried several times during the Assembly floor session to force a vote on the Democratic version of the budget.  GOP Assemblyman Todd Spitzer tried more than once to bring it up:

“The Democrats can walk off the floor of the state Assembly and show their objection to this debate, but let’s be clear.  The people of the state of California deserve a budget.”

Democrats – who hold a majority - blocked the move.  And Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass wasn’t a fan of what she called the gamesmanship: 

“So, I think what happened today is a reflection of a step back, using and wasting our time frankly, when we’re trying to do business.”

Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines says the move was born out of frustration that the two parties are at what he calls “a total impasse” – 5 weeks into the fiscal year. 

I just have to say, in the last I think,10 days, we’ve gone backwards.”

There’s no Republican support for the Democratic budget, because it includes billions in income tax increases.  But Villines says he called for the vote to force Democrats to defend their proposal.  GOP lawmakers are pushing for budget reforms – such as future limits to state spending and a bigger rainy day savings account for the state.  Democrats oppose the spending cap.  Those reforms would have to be put to voters, and Villines says it won’t be pretty if they miss the mid-month deadline to get them to the ballot…

“At some point, kicking in very soon, there’s a sine die, you’re not going to be able to get to the ballot with this reform, and you know, once that happens, if that’s their game, we will be in the longest budget we’ve ever had.  And that’s too bad.”

That’s certainly not what the thousands of workers making no salary – or minimum wage - because of the absent budget want to hear.