If State is in Crisis Why is Capitol Empty?

State loses more money by the second

By Mike Luery and John Boitnott
|  Friday, Dec 5, 2008  |  Updated 11:28 AM PDT
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Fiscal Crisis but Capitol Building Empty

Patrick Walton

California legislators have one last chance to strike a budget deal before going home empty-handed for the holidays.

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Fiscal Crisis but Capitol Building Empty

As California sits billions of dollars in debt, with a budget shortfall that is growing by the day, the capitol building sits empty.
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As California sits billions of dollars in debt, with a budget shortfall that is growing by the day, the capitol building sits empty.

"We may have lost upwards of two billion dollars in savings both on the spending side and the revenue side," said H.D. Palmer, the California Department of Finance Spokesman.

Most lawmakers are back home in their districts now. However, there are signs that the inactivity will change soon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he wants to see immediate action on the state's $11 billion budget hole.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass told NBC Bay Area she has invited State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, legislative analyst Mac Taylor and State Controller John Chiang to talk tough on the budget breakdown in front of the entire legislature on Monday.
 
"All 120 legislators will hear the same thing at the same time," Bass said. "I think it is most important that all of us come to grips with the seriousness and the urgency of acting before the year is out."

Bass' action plan includes a constitutional amendment to pass California's budget on a simple majority vote of the legislature.

"For us to have our hands tied every year with a two-thirds vote requirement given the fiscal crisis that we're in right now -- we feel it's time to catch up with 47 other states," Bass said.

However, there is much resistance from Republicans who say the speaker's plan means only one thing -- higher taxes.

"Taxpayers would pay more money," said Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks. "The sky's the limit."

Bass said she plans a special commission next week to take a critical look at California's tax structure, including possible major revisions to the sales tax.

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