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The Big Five were all smile as they announced a budget deal had been reached. Now comes the hard part. Getting it through the legislature.
What seemed like a ray of hope in the California budget mess has burned out. It was late last week when the Governor announced a agreement on "the framework of an agreement". Many did not know exactly what that meant then, and we know no more today. That's because the Governor and other members of the Big Five canceled scheduled talks Tuesday after meeting for all of two hours Monday night.
It appears unions are stalling things by attempting to block a rollback of pension benefits. That is one of the reforms Schwarzenegger has demanded in exchange for his support.
The governor's press secretary told the LA Times, the "Democrats are unwilling to stand up to the union bosses."
The spokeswoman for state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said McLear's assessment was "not correct." "There are a number of issues that remain unresolved," Alicia Trost told the paper. Another person in Darrell's office said the governor is trying to find "someone to blame for his inadequacies."
The Times said Democrats claim the sticking point is a series of new tax breaks pushed by Republicans.
Aaron McLear's official statement Tuesday that "staff will continue to work through issues" even though the leaders aren't meeting.
So whoever is right, talks appear stalled.
The set back follows word of a break through late last week.
McLear said in a similar statement last Thursday, "The Governor and Legislative leaders have reached the framework of an agreement, will work through the details over the weekend, and hope to come to a final agreement when they reconvene Monday."
Here it is Tuesday and we are nowhere. And "nowhere" is day 89 without a budget deal.
Schwarzenegger seemed confident when he spoke in Santa Clara Monday. There he told the audience it is still be possible for the state to have a deal "in the next week."
Fiscally, things will get a lot worse come the end of the week. Friday is the first day of October and with a new month comes a new fiscal quarter. Starting Friday commercial lenders can cut off the state's credit card.
Among other things, it also means the Department of Parks and Recreation may not be able to buy restroom and other supplies.
Getting those five people to agree is step one of a multi-level process. The final deal requires support from two-thirds of lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly.