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Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

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Old 09-16-08, 10:25 AM   #1
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California Budget approved, but veto is threatened

By Jim Sanders - jsanders@sacbee.com

Last Updated 6:30 am PDT Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The fate of California's record budget standoff is up to one man now.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must decide, with a stroke of his pen, whether to sign a budget deal passed early today by the Legislature - and he has threatened a veto.

A marathon session of the Legislature ended at 2:30 a.m. with the proposed compromise receiving the necessary two-thirds majority to pass the Assembly, 61-1, and the Senate, 28-12.

The proposed budget, crafted by legislative leaders over the weekend, was rushed to a vote with little or no opportunity for the public to obtain and analyze the hundreds of pages containing the budget proposal and about two dozen trailer bills to implement it.

The compromise would solve the state's $15.2 billion deficit largely by advancing revenues to be collected in future years, employing accounting maneuvers, and shifting or borrowing money from other state funds.

The measure would produce a $104.3 billion general fund that would bring short-term relief but likely lead to shortfalls in future years.

A key element would increase taxpayers' income tax withholding by 10 percent, then return any overpayment later in the form of refunds.

Hours before Tuesday's early morning vote, Schwarzenegger released a letter warning that he could not sign the compromise unless three changes were made to restrict future spending.

The Legislature rejected one of Schwarzenegger's demands, which would have placed tighter limits on when and how much money could be transferred from the state's rainy-day fund.

"Without this restriction, the rainy-day fund turns into nothing more than a slush fund that can be raided at any point and up to any amount," said Matt David, Schwarzenegger's communications director, in a written statement.

Legislative leaders were noncommital about whether they would try to override Schwarzenegger if he vetoes the compromise plan.

"We would definitely discuss it," Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said.

The Los Angeles Democrat said she hopes that Schwarzenegger will withdraw his threat.

"None of us are too thrilled about this budget," she said. "But this is the 77th day without a budget. Too many people are hurting. I think it would be really irresponsible at this point to veto it because he didn't get 100 percent of what he wanted."

Assembly Minority leader Mike Villines declined to discuss how his members would react to a budget veto by a GOP governor.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," said Villines, R-Clovis.

But Villines characterized the proposed budget as a fair compromise.

"We worked as hard as we could on the language," he said. "I think we've got it worked out in a way that, frankly, I think he should be able to claim victory - we've got budget reform in there."

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said the budget approved by the Legislature does little to solve future revenue problems.

"We've done exactly what the governor didn't want to do: We have simply rolled the problem into the next year," Perata said in a written statement.

"But (Schwarzenegger) couldn't get any of the Republicans to vote for a tax increase, and so that is where we stand," added Perata, D-Oakland.

http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/1240056.html
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Old 09-16-08, 03:36 PM   #2
wabio
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"The compromise would solve the state's $15.2 billion deficit largely by advancing revenues to be collected in future years, employing accounting maneuvers, and shifting or borrowing money from other state funds."

Sounds like Washington.
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Old 09-16-08, 03:43 PM   #3
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This was the solution? To put nebulous increases that come some day in the future?
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Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baronís cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. - C.S. Lewis
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Old 09-16-08, 04:03 PM   #4
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No way. Arnie has made his stance clear and he should not back down. 2 out of 3?

We saw how this worked out for him previously.

He said "You can't kill John in 1994, and you can't kill John in 2004."

But he backed down and said "Okay, fine. I will kill Sarah in 1984."

Didn't work out well for him then, won't work now.
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Old 09-17-08, 10:00 AM   #5
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Schwarzenegger vows budget veto
By Jim Sanders - jsanders@sacbee.com

Published 12:17 am PDT Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1

Extending the state's longest budget fight, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Tuesday that he will veto a proposed state budget that "takes our problems and makes them even worse."

"I say enough is enough," Schwarzenegger said. "Californians have been through this roller-coaster ride too many times and so this is why, when they send me a budget, I will veto it."

Schwarzenegger criticized a compromise budget passed by lawmakers in the early morning hours Tuesday as irresponsible for pushing fiscal problems into next year and for failing to impose tight restraints on future spending.

The governor threatened to veto hundreds of bills on his desk unless legislators make changes in the proposed $104.3 billion spending plan intended to end the 79-day budget standoff.

Legislative leaders vowed Tuesday to override a gubernatorial veto for the first time since the days of then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979. Doing so would require a two-thirds vote of each legislative house.

"I'm pretty confident that we're not going to have difficulty doing that," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

Republican leaders Mike Villines in the Assembly and David Cogdill in the Senate said they would support overriding a veto by Schwarzenegger, who also is a Republican.

"It's a mistake," Cogdill said of Schwarzenegger's decision. "I will vote to override the governor's veto, as should every other legislator who approved this budget."

Political analysts said the fighting is likely to worsen the already low approval ratings of the governor and lawmakers.

"From what I've seen, I think voters are extremely frustrated at everyone," said Gale Kaufman, a Democratic political strategist.

In approving a compromise budget, lawmakers scrapped Schwarzenegger's proposed temporary, 1-cent sales tax increase and replaced about roughly $4 billion it would have raised by accelerating – but not increasing – corporate and individual tax obligations.

A key element of the plan calls for increasing taxpayers' income tax withholding by 10 percent, thus boosting revenues quickly, then refunding any overpayments later.

Schwarzenegger argues that such accounting maneuvers merely delay the state's fiscal reckoning.

"I will not sign a 'get-out-of-town budget' that punishes taxpayers, pushes the problem into the next year and includes fake budget reform," he said.

Schwarzenegger labeled the proposal a tax increase in disguise. "It's just withholding people's money," he said. "You're taking away billions of dollars from California taxpayers, no matter if it is through a sales tax or through this."

Legislative leaders counter that the proposed budget is a way to bridge the state's $15.2 billion deficit without raising taxes or making deep cuts to education or health-care programs.

The proposal essentially is a way for the state to borrow future tax revenue, interest-free, without increasing the total amount due from taxpayers in any given year.

Legislative supporters say the compromise was the best possible, with Republicans adamantly opposed to tax increases and Democrats determined to hold the line on deep cuts to schools or health-care programs.

"While not perfect, the budget compromise funds our state's priorities without raising taxes on California's hard-working families," Villines said in a written statement.

Both the Senate and the Assembly approved the compromise budget by more than a two-thirds majority.

Republican Sen. George Runner of Lancaster applauded the governor's veto promise.

"Let's face it – this budget needs more work before it is delivered to Californians," Runner said. "The governor is using his executive position judiciously."

Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's spokesman, said GOP legislators could have a hard time justifying a veto override to voters. "Republican lawmakers will be voting to override a Republican governor who is fighting to control spending," he said.

Schwarzenegger reserved some of his harshest criticism Tuesday for the budget proposal's failure to institute tight controls on future state spending.

The spending plan would beef up the state's rainy-day fund for emergencies, but it would allow money to be diverted by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Schwarzenegger wants diversions to be permitted only if the economy takes a nosedive.

"We've got to look forward and say, 'How do we fix this system once and for all?' " he said.

At a news conference, Schwarzenegger initially said that he would kill all the bills on his desk if legislators override his budget veto.

Pressed on the issue, Schwarzenegger seemed to soften his stance. More than 800 bills await his approval or veto this month.

"The only power that I have as governor in a situation like this is looking at the bills very carefully. … I'm just saying that every bill will be carefully evaluated and hundreds of bills will be vetoed."

One key bill, by Democratic Sen. Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, is designed to discourage urban sprawl by steering state money for roads toward projects that put homes close to workplaces.

"If the governor wants to veto a bill that's unrelated to the budget and essential to his environmental legacy, that's his choice," Steinberg said.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said the governor is treating the disagreement like an eighth-grade schoolyard fight, vowing to retaliate for a perceived slight.

"If he wants to veto those bills, that's up to him, but it once again shows how little he understands about this place – because the only thing that matters to us right now is the budget," Perata said.





http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1242404.html
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Old 09-17-08, 10:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
This was the solution? To put nebulous increases that come some day in the future?
Yeah, CA has its problems but it's still amazing to have Arnie as govenor.

Arnie in leather jacket and sunglasses.
"This is what I think of your bill."
*gunshots*
"Try again."
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Old 09-17-08, 10:36 AM   #7
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this is why i couldn't ever be governor

i would just resign, move out of state, sell anything in california and tell everyone good luck and enjoy your tax increases
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Old 09-17-08, 12:54 PM   #8
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Looking at the proposal, I don't know how anyone could see it as anything but a quick fix that screws you later. And all budgetary numbers assume a similar economy. If the economy worsens, then the all the revenue gets cut.

Man, my state is sucking with deficits, but we ain't California.
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Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baronís cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. - C.S. Lewis
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Old 09-17-08, 12:55 PM   #9
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Don't be economic girlie-men!
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Old 09-19-08, 11:04 AM   #10
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Governor, lawmakers cut deal on budget
By Kevin Yamamura - kyamamura@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, September 19, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1

Legislative leaders reached a tentative deal Thursday with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a $104.3 billion general fund budget after they agreed to satisfy his demands to strengthen a rainy-day fund and eliminate a maneuver to accelerate collection of income tax from residents.

The Assembly and Senate are scheduled to vote on the final changes today, 81 days into the fiscal year, capping the longest budget delay in California history.

Schwarzenegger's budget signature would end a nearly three-month saga in which California stopped billions in payments to health care providers, community colleges, schools and vendors who do business with the state.

It also would render moot the governor's attempt to slash state worker salaries to the federal minimum wage and increases the chances that Schwarzenegger will seriously consider more than 800 bills being sent to his desk.

"It appears that we have an agreement," said Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear. "We will be able to confirm that once the governor meets with the legislative leaders tomorrow.

"I'm not in a position to discuss the details of the agreement other than it has met the governor's demands to provide real budget reform and not take money from people's paychecks."

Legislative leaders from both parties said Thursday that they'd reached a tentative deal after two meetings with Schwarzenegger that lasted about half an hour each.

Lawmakers thought they had resolved the budget when they voted on a plan early Tuesday that eliminated a $15.2 billion shortfall through a mix of borrowing, accounting shifts and suspending cost-of-living adjustments for low-income residents.

But Schwarzenegger vowed to veto that spending plan because he said its rainy-day fund to help the state through bad economic times was too weak.

He also demanded Thursday that lawmakers remove a $1.5 billion proposal to withhold extra income taxes from residents that the state would not pay back until 2010, though legislative leaders insisted that the idea had originated in the governor's own Department of Finance. Schwarzenegger never publicly made such a proposal.

That particular idea drew scorn as critics accused lawmakers of trying to balance the budget with a no-interest loan from taxpayers.

Legislators ultimately agreed Thursday to tighten the rainy-day fund so that it can be tapped only during bad economic times, a concession from Democrats who wanted greater ability to access the money.

Lawmakers also proposed making up the lost $1.5 billion revenue by increasing penalties on corporations that underpay taxes. Leaders agreed to lower the amount of the state's reserve fund from $1.2 billion to $800 million.

Under the latest budget plan, corporations that underpay their taxes by $1 million or more would see penalties rise from 10 percent to 20 percent. The deal also assumes a cancellation of a proposed tax amnesty program.

"I think that the change is that it shifts it away from individuals to companies, and it also does not affect small businesses," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

The budget plan still includes a $2.3 billion maneuver that demands "accelerated" tax payments from corporations and wealthy earners.

"I feel like we've gotten to where we need to be," said Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines of Clovis. "I feel like we should be able to put this thing to bed."

Jean Ross of the California Budget Project, an advocacy group for the working poor, said the corporate fee increase is "potentially even more gimmicky" because that revenue is less secure. She said the budget as a whole will put the state back into another budget problem next year.

"The reality is, it does nothing for next year except it fails to bring in the real revenue we need to make progress," Ross said.

Lawmakers this week openly discussed trying to override a Schwarzenegger veto to enact their Tuesday budget, but they were unsure whether they could get enough GOP support. They opted to negotiate with him instead.

"Real people are getting hurt," said Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland. "The governor was convinced that the best thing to do was veto it, and that would have set us back, Lord knows how long."

Bass put the Capitol in a brief holding pattern Thursday when she avoided comment so she could talk to her caucus.

But she said an hour later that she was confident that both houses will approve the deal today and that Schwarzenegger would sign it.

"I don't think anybody is celebrating," Bass said, "but everybody recognizes that we need to end 80-plus days of pain in the state of California."

Democrats wanted to increase taxes on high-income earners, while Schwarzenegger proposed in August a temporary 1-cent sales tax to balance the budget.

But Republicans pledged to oppose any new tax increases and said spending cuts were necessary.

Bass said she had no reason to believe that Republicans would have agreed to tax increases had Democrats held out on the budget any longer.

Lawmakers anticipate placing the budget rainy-day proposal and a California Lottery expansion on a special election ballot that could take place as early as March, when Los Angeles will hold a mayoral election.

Bass said a water bond is possible for the same ballot.

http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1249171.html
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Old 09-23-08, 05:31 PM   #11
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Schwarzenegger signs Calif. budget 85 days late

By JUDY LIN, Associated Press Writer 59 minutes ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the most overdue state budget in California history Tuesday, skipping the usual fanfare because he said the Legislature's efforts on the $144.5 billion spending plan were nothing to celebrate.

Nearly a quarter of the way through its fiscal year, the state finally has freed up billions of dollars to pay medical clinics, nursing homes, daycare centers and contract vendors. The 85-day impasse stemmed from a partisan legislative standoff over how to close California's $15.2 billion deficit.

The governor signed the budget bills in his office, rather than the Capitol rotunda where budgets are usually signed. He also issued line-item vetoes to trim $510 million.

"Why I didn't feel like celebrating in the rotunda is that it is inexcusable to have a budget that's three months late," Schwarzenegger said after signing the budget. "It's three months late because both of the parties stayed in their ideological corners and refused to come out."

Legislative Republicans opposed any tax increase, while Democrats sought to combine budget cuts with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Californians.

Schwarzenegger had offered what he considered a compromise proposal involving a temporary 1 cent increase in the state sales tax that would drop after three years. That plan failed to gain support from Republicans, which meant it would not be able to generate the required two-thirds vote in the Assembly or Senate.

The final version approved by the Legislature last week includes $7.1 billion in spending cuts, which advocates say will trigger deep cuts to health care programs. Critics also said the plan relies on accounting tricks to inflate revenue and makes permanent some tax breaks that will lead to larger deficits.

Lawmakers met the governor's demands for a stronger rainy day fund and authority to make spending cuts during the year, but they did not address the imbalance between revenue and spending.

And the budget battle isn't quite over. The changes to the rainy day fund require voter approval, as does a plan to borrow $10 billion from future lottery revenue to help stabilize the next two state budgets. Schwarzenegger said a special election is likely to be scheduled for June.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass reiterated her call to have a commission review the state's tax structure, while Republican leaders pledged to fend off tax increases in the next fiscal year that will start July 1.

Those negotiations are expected to be just as frustrating as this year's, as the state's economy continues its tailspin. Lower tax revenue and automatic spending increases are expected to produce a deficit of at least $1 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

That shortfall will grow significantly if voters reject the lottery proposal, which is expected to add $5 billion annually for the next two years.

After signing the budget, Schwarzenegger took part in a rally for Proposition 11, the Nov. 4 ballot initiative that would take authority to draw legislative districts away from state lawmakers and give it to an independent citizen's commission overseen by the state auditor.

Schwarzenegger says the current system creates a conflict of interest that prevents truly competitive races for Assembly and Senate seats. When districts are weighted strongly for Democrats or Republicans, only the most partisan candidates win and head to Sacramento. That dynamic makes compromise extremely difficult, Schwarzenegger has said, pointing to this year's protracted budget deadlock as an example.

(This version CORRECTS budget amount, $144.5 billion not $143 billion, per updated projections.)
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