2009 is a new opportunity… That’s according to state legislative leaders who continue to grapple with a 41-billion dollar budget deficit. During the holidays, Democratic leaders negotiated with the Governor on a majority vote plan to address about 18 billion dollars of that shortfall. Senate Democratic Leader Darrell Steinberg says he thinks they’re close. That’s despite sticking points that include the Governor’s request to relax environmental rules to help speed up building projects. Steinberg says there isn’t really agreement over cuts and taxes either.
“We’re stretching, we’re negotiating, we’re meeting the Governor more than halfway, we’re not quite there yet but we’re not giving up before we get there…”
But Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines says the way he sees it-- negotiations have hit a snag between the Governor and the majority party… Villines says the New Year is an opportunity for the G-O-P to get back to negotiating. He says they’ll talk about new “revenues”— also known as taxes. That’s if their demands for budget reform are met.
“We’ve always felt that there are ways to revenues outside of taxes, but having said that we’re open to any conversation on that if we’re truly reforming government , if we’re truly putting people back to work, if we’re making budget cuts and we’re making budget reforms so this won’t happen again.”
Meanwhile the Governor has given legislators something else to chew on. On New Year’s Eve his finance director unveiled next year’s state budget. It includes billions of dollars in spending cuts to education and social service programs as well as billions in tax increases.