Arnold's Lame Duck Year

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began a brand new, never-before-played role Monday:  lame duck. 

He gets the title because this is his final year as governor.

The finale tour begins Wednesday when he gives his seventh and final State of the State speech.

That's when the Republican governor is set to outline his political agenda for 2010. 

He is set to lay out his budget proposal to lawmakers on Friday.  One that needs to come with a plan to close a $60 billion budget gap.

Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers began the week and the year facing a huge budget mess and likely more painful spending cuts.

The question remains as to what tone Schwarzenegger will take with the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

"It's not the year to throw punches," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles. "It's the year to extend an olive branch and say, 'How can we work together?'"

Budget talks are expected to be especially difficult as the state faces a $20 billion shortfall.

"This is political gravity," said Rob Stutzman, a former Schwarzenegger adviser. "Anyone in their last year is a lame duck, and it does diminish their political capital and ability to get things done. The Legislature knows that they can play this out with a slow play and get to the next governor, which they may decide they want to do."

Bass said Democrats are interested in working with the governor, especially if he is less confrontational than he has been in the past.

Sparks are expected to fly if Schwarzenegger seeks to impose more spending cuts or impose layoffs involving state workers, who have already faced furlough days.

Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislators agree that California is shortchanged when it comes to federal funding for the state. Bass and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, are both planning to head to Washington, D.C., to make the case that California needs more money. They said the state is not seeking a bailout, but they want more flexibility to cut programs without losing federal dollars. contributed to this report.

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